The Wildland  Fire  Suppression  Tactics Reference  Guide is designed to 
supplement courses  that teach tactics in the Wildland  Fire Qualification System. 
It can be used by the beginning  firefighter  to learn basic  tactics  as well  as a 
review  of fire  suppression tactics  for  the  advanced  firefighter. 
This reference  guide  was developed  under  the direction of the  National Wildfire 
Coordinating Group  Training  Working  Team  with coordination and  assistance of 
Fire Managers  from  the following  agencies: 
United  States  Department of the Interior 
Bureau  of Land Management  
National  Park  Service  
Bureau  of Indian  Affairs  
United  States  Department of Agriculture 
Forest  Service 
National Association  of State Foresters 
Colorado  State Forest  Service  
Minnesota Division  of Forestry  
We appreciate the efforts those people associated  with the design  and development 
of  this  product. 

Additional  copies  of this publication  may  be ordered from:  
National  Interagency  Fire  Center  
ATTN:  Supply  
3833 S.  Development  Ave.  
Boise,  Idaho 83705  
Order NFES  #1256  
INTRODUCTION TO REFERENCE GUIDE..............................................  1  
(LCES)  4  
Fire  Sizeup  and  Initial  Attack  7  
How  to  Attack  a  Fire  15  
Where  to  Attack  a  Fire  18  
Fireline Location  20  
Fireline Flagging  26  
Fireline Construction  29  
Coyote Tactic  36  
Crew  Production  Rates  38  
Fireline Explosives  41  
Mopup  44  
Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics  (MIST)  48  
Types  of  Pumps  59  
Hydraulics  62  
Series,  Parallel,  and Staged  Pumping  71  
Hose Lays  75  
Mopup  78  
Tactical  Use of Water  79  
Surfactants  92  
Class A Foam.  93  
Retardants  101  
Firegels  101  
Burning Out and  Backfiring  105  
Types  of Fire  Spread  109  
Ignition  Techniques  113  
Strip  Firing  113  
One,  Two,  Three  - Three,  Two,  One  (1-2-3/3-2-1)  Firing  Concept  115  
Head  and  Strip  Head  Firing  117  
Blowhole Firing  118  
Spot  Firing  119  
Ring  Firing  120  
Chevron  Firing  121  
Burn  Strip  122  
Planning  and Conducting Firing  Operations  123  
Special  Firing  Considerations  124  
Firing  Equipment  127  
Dozers  133  
Comparison  of Dozers  Used  For  Fireline  Construction  134  
Dozer  Production  Rates  140  
Dozer  Line  Construction Principles  144  
Tractor  Plows  148  
Principles  of  Tractor/Plow  Operations  149  
Engines  153  
Mobile Attack  156  
Tandem  Tactic  157  
Pincer  Tactic  158  
Envelopment Tactic  159  
Stationary Attack  160  
Inside-out  Tactic  161  
Parallel  Attack  162  
Engine  Production Rates  164  
Factors  Affecting  Aircraft  Use  167  
Factors  to  Consider in  Retardant Aircraft Use  170  
Types,  Effects,  and Use of Retardant  173  
Recommended Retardant Coverage Levels  175  
Retardant  Evaluation Criteria  176  
Air  Tanker Tactics  177  
Principles  of Retardant  Application  180  
Kinds  of Wildland/Urban  Interface  183  
Structural  Fire  Behavior  184  
Wildland/Urban Fire Sizeup  Considerations  185  
Structure  Triage  188  
Wildland/Urban  Interface  Firefighting  Tactics  191  
Structure  Full  Containment  194  
Structure  Partial  Containment  195  
Structure  No Containment  196  
Structural  Firefighting  Situations  That  Shout  "Watch  Out"  200  
Structural  Watch  Out Situations  &  Triage  Made  Easier to  Remember  201  
Alaska  205  
Northwest and Northern  Rocky  Mountains  219  
Southern and  Central  California  237  
Great Basin and Southern Rocky Mountains  257  
Southwest  283  
Northeast  297  
Southeast  313  
The Wildland  Fire Suppression  Tactics Reference  Guide provides  basic  tactical 
information on  suppressing  wildland  fires.  It  also  provides  information on 
wildland fire  fuels,  fire  behavior,  and tactics by  geographic  areas  of the  United 
It can be  used  by  the beginning  firefighter  to learn  more  about  tactics  or 
determining  exactly  where  and how to build  a control  line  and what  other 
suppression  measures  are necessary  to extinguish a fire. 
It can be used  as a review  of fire  suppression  tactics  for the  advanced firefighter. 
The tactics reference  guide is intended  to be a supplement,  but  not a substitute for 
wildland  fire  training.  It does  not qualify  a person  for  any  wildland firefighting 
This guide does  not include  nor address the constraints  on firefighting  imposed 
by environmental  laws and regulations;  i.e., designated wilderness  areas, 
wilderness  study areas, threatened  and endangered species, cultural  and 
archeology  sites,  air quality,  etc. 
Fight fire  aggressively  but  provide  for  safety  first.  
Initiate all action  based  on current  and expected fire  behavior.  
Recognize current  weather  conditions  and obtain  forecasts.  
Ensure instructions  are  given  and  understood.  
Obtain current information on  fire  status.  
Remain in communication with  crew  members,  your  supervisor and  
adjoining  forces. 
Determine safety zones and escape routes. 
Establish lookouts  in potentially  hazardous  situations. 
Retain control  at all times. 
Stay  alert, keep  calm,  think  clearly,  act decisively. 
(Survival Checklist) 
Fire not  scouted  and sized up. 
In country  not  seen by daylight. 
Safety zones and escape routes not identified. 
Unfamiliar with  weather  and local  factors  influencing fire  behavior. 
Uninformed on  strategy,  tactics  and hazards. 
Instructions and assignments  not clear. 
No  communication link  with  crew  members/supervisor. 
Constructing fireline  without  safe anchor  point. 
Building fireline  downhill  with  fire  below. 
Attempting frontal  attack  on the  fire. 
Unbumed fuel  between  you  and the fire. 
Cannot  see main fire, not in contact  with anyone  who can. 
On a hillside  where rolling  material  can ignite  fuel  below. 
Weather is  getting  hotter  and  drier. 
Wind increases  and/or changes  direction. 
Getting  frequent  spot fires  across  line. 
Terrain  and fuels make escape  to safety  zones difficult. 
Taking  a nap  near  the  fireline. 
Figure 1 displays the concept of LCES which is posting lookout(s) if you cannot
see the fire, maintaining communications between the lookout(s) and firefighters,
and always knowing your escape route(s) and safety zone(s). If LCES is
constantly practiced the Standard Firefighting Orders and Watch Out Situations
will not be compromised.
Figure I-LCES
Lookout(s)  --r(f)
-- -- Objective 
Escape Route(s) 

Safety Zone(s) 
LeES must be established & known  to 
ALL firefighters  BEFORE needed. 
Strategy  is  an overall  plan  of action  for fighting  a fire  which  gives  regard to  the  
most cost efficient use of personnel  and equipment  in consideration of resource  
values  threatened,  fire behavior,  legal  constraints,  and objectives established for  
resource  management.  
Tactics  are the operational aspects  of fire  suppression.  Determining exactly  
where  and how  to build  a control  line  and what  other  suppression measures  are  
necessary  to extinguish  a fire.  Tactics  must be consistent with the  strategy  
established for  suppressing  a fire.  
The purpose  of this  section on fire  suppression  principles  is to acquaint all  
firefighters  with  the factors  to size up a fire  and apply the  strategy  and tactics  that  
will enable  an appropriate  suppression  response  to be completed in  a safe,  
efficient  manner,  and facilitate  rehabilitation of the  suppression impacts.  
Most wildland fires  are  suppressed by  initial  attack  (first  to  arrive)  forces.  Some  
wildland  fires  become  large  for  various  reasons.  Fire  suppression principles  
apply to initial  attack  as well  as to large  fires  or parts  of large  fires.  
Often times firefighters and incidentcommanderstake shortcutsconcerningfire
sizeup, establishingcommunicationsand safety. Athoroughfire sizeup,
establishingcommunicationsamong allresources onafire, and applying safety to
allaspects offire suppressionare critical elementsthat must be adheredto. If
adequate communicationscannotbeestablishedandfirefightersafety is
compromisedthen itistime toback offandre-evaluateyour tactics.
If you are assignedto fight fire in an area where you are unfamiliarwith the
local fuels, weather, topography, and fire behavioryou shouldrequestabriefing
from the local agency, to provide you with this information.
Inmany cases sizeup andinitial attack gohand inhand becausethe firefighter
with apassionfor safety begins to gatherinformationabout the fire situation
from the initial dispatchand/orprior to departing to the fire incident.
En route To A Fire
En route to afire beginto thinkabout your knowledgeofthe fire area and how
current conditionscomparetopast experiences. Some items to considerare:
• Firefighter safety.
•Fuels and terrain.  What are the fuels? Are they heavytimbertypes or
light, flashy, grass types? Are the fuels shelteredfrom direct solar
radiationdue to aspect orcover? Isthe terrainsteep or gentle? How do
you expectthis fire to bumcomparedto recentfires in similarareas?
•Weather-isthe windspeedgreateror less than the forecast? Is itfrom
the same direction? Arethere dust devils or gusty winds that would
indicateerratic behavior? Isthe humidityabout what was forecast? Are
there any indicatorclouds or thunderstorms?
•Smoke column-checksize,height, color, directionand shape.
The greaterthe heightand size ofthe columnthe greaterthe fire
intensity. Afractured (bent over by the wind) columnindicates awind-
driven fire. Wind-drivenfires can pose serious threats to safety as the
fire grows. Spottingcanbecomelong range creatingnew fires aheadof
the main fire. However, directionand rate of spreadis more
A large  developing mushroom shaped column can  indicate a plume-
dominated fire  where  the  fire's  rate  of spread and  direction is  very 
unpredictable.  Strong wind  indrafts  and  downbursts  can  occur with 
short  range  spotting in  all  directions. 
Light colored smoke  generally indicates lighter burning fuels  whereas  a 
dark  colored smoke  indicates heavier burning fuels  such  as  brush or 
• Access  routes  and  their limitations-also look  for  alternate rOlltes. 
•  Fire  barriers  (natural  and  human  made). 
•  Potential water sources. 
• Land ownership (including cooperative agreements  and  assistance on  fire 
suppression) . 
• History of fires  in  area  and  cause. 
• Capabilities of responding resources and  available back-up forces. 
• Look for  people coming from  the  fire  area  or  suspicious  people at  the 
fire  scene.  Write  down  license plate  numbers and  descriptions of vehicles 
and/or people. 
• Public  safety  concerns. 
Arrival  On  Fire  Scene 
Safety  of assigned resources, facilities,  and the public  should  always  be  a prime 
item  to consider when  evaluating possible attack  options.  An  appropriate decision 
always  provides  for  safety first.  The  Fire  Orders,  Watch  Out  Situations,  and  the 
LCES  system are to be  implemented and reviewed often. 
After  arrival  on  the  fire  scene,  your  next  decisions  are  critical to  initial attack 
success.  This  is  where  you  "make  it or break it."  If you  go  off in  all  directions 
little  will  be  accomplished and  firefighter safety  could be jeopardized.  You  need 
to  gather  additional  critical information to  complete the  fire  sizeup  and 
formulate  an  appropriate  plan  of attack. 
These  are  the  key  factors  you  should observe in  relation to fuels,  weather, 
topography,  and  fire  behavior during  your  sizeup  process: 
• Type/model.
• Size classes present and size classes burning.
• Are fuels light and continuous?
• Live/dead ratio (frost, bug kill, drought conditions).
• Fine dead fuel moisture (dangerous below 6%).
• Live fuel moisture (chaparral, sagebrush, Gambel oak, etc.)
• Vertical arrangement and horizontal continuity (ladder fuels, tight crown
spacing less than 20 feet).
• Loading (heavy vs. light).
• Snag concentrations.
• Areas with rebum potential.
• Access restrictions for personnel.
Some fuels such as chamise, chaparral, pines, palmetto-gallberry, junipers,
mountain laurel, rhododendron, and eucalyptus burn hotter and produce longer
flame lengths than others because they contain flammable oils.
Generally, taller and thicker fuel will produce longer flame lengths and control
lines must be wider.
Heavy fuels do not ignite easily and fires do not spread as fast as in light fuels
such as grass, leaves, needles, and twigs. However, once ignited, logs, snags, and
heavy branches bum for a long time and may require wide control lines to keep
the flame, sparks, or radiated heat from igniting fuels across the line.
Fuel moisture and whether fuel is dead or alive have a definite effect on a
burning fire's intensity. Generally, the drier the fuel the hotter it burns and
longer flame lengths are produced. Longer flame lengths require wider firelines
to stop the fire.
• Aspect.
• Position on slope (ridge top, mid-slope, drainage bottom).
• Building line downhill or uphill.
• Width of canyons (wide/narrow).
• Box canyons and/or chutes.
• Percent slope.
• Potential for rolling material.
• Available natural and/or constructed barriers.
• Elevation.
When a fireline is built above a fire burning on a slope, generally the steeper the
slope, the wider the line must be because the fire usually burns faster and more
intensely than on a gentler slope. The more gentle the slope the narrower the line
can be.
When a fireline is built below a fire burning on a slope, the width of the line does
not depend so much on the slope, but trenching becomes important. Generally
the steeper the slope, the deeper the trench must be, to prevent rolling burning
material from crossing the fireline.
• Maximum/minimum relative humidities.
• Wind velocity, direction and patterns (gusty vs. steady).
• Temperature variations.
• Thermal belts.
• Thunderstorm activity.
• Diurnal wind patterns and windspeed.
• Inversions.
• Foehn winds.
• Battling winds or sudden calm.
When a gravity or foehn wind interacts with a local wind, significant
wind reversals are likely. Definite indicators are winds battling back and
forth causing a wavering smoke column and a sudden calm.
A decreasing foehn wind that allows a local wind to regain influence can
be as dangerous as the foehn wind that overpowers a local wind. A wind
reversal from a decreasing foehn wind has been a factor in several
fatality fires.
• Weather forecasts (request spot weather forecast if predicted weather
condition is unknown).
• Last precipitation and amounts.
• Indicators of turbulence (dust devils, thunderstorms, lee sides of ridges,
• Indicators of instability (clear visibility, smoke rising straight up,
inversions lifting).
• Indicator clouds.
• Haines Index 5 or 6.
In general the higher the temperature and the lower the humidity, the lower the
fuel moisture. The lower the fuel moisture, the more intensely a fire will burn
and the wider the fireline must be.
The wind or air currents increase the burning intensity by supplying more
oxygen, by moving currents of hot, drying air into the fuels ahead, or by actually
carrying burning embers (spotting) ahead of the fire itself. Therefore, the
stronger the wind or convection current, the wider the line must be.
Fire Behavior:
• Rate of spread on various portions of the fire.
• Flame lengths on various portions of the fire.
• Type of fire spread (smoldering, creeping, running, torching, spotting).
• Classification of fire (ground, surface, aerial [trees torching]).
• Indicators of extreme fire behavior (a rapid buildup of intensity, a high
sustained rate of spread, a well developed convection column, frequent or
long distance spotting [600 feet or more], firewhirls, horizontal flame
• Size of fire.
• Location of fire in relation to topographic features (chutes, canyon
bottoms, ridge tops, mid-slope).
Flame length is an important fire behavior factor you should be concerned with
during sizeup. Generally fires with flame lengths greater than 4 feet are too
intense for direct attack on the head by persons using hand tools (see Figure 2).
Figure 2-Fire Suppression Limitations Based On Flame Length*
Flame Length
4' Fires can generally be attacked at the head or flanks by
persons using hand tools. Handline should hold the fire.
4'-8' Fires are too intense for direct attack on the head by
persons using hand tools. Handline cannot be relied on
to hold fire.
8'-11' Fires may present serious control problems; torching
out, crowning and spotting. Control efforts at the head
will probably be ineffective.
>11' Crowning, spotting and major fire runs are probable.
Control efforts at the head of the fire are ineffective.
*This may be modified for local fuels and conditions.
Other  critical elements to  consider: 
• Restrictions on  suppression tactics  (wilderness areas,  threatened and 
endangered species,  etc.). 
•  Span  of control. 
• Biological and  environmental hazards. 
• Constructed hazards  (powerlines,  hazardous waste  dump  sites). 
•  Urban  interface. 
•  Availability of critical  support (hose  lays,  helicopter/fixed wing). 
• Physical and  mental  condition of assigned resources. 
•  Ability  to  re-supply. 
• Availability of human  made  and  natural  barriers  (game  trails,  cow  paths, 
roads,  trails,  lakes,  rivers,  old  burns). 
•  Availability of water sources. 
• Observation points. 
• Archeological sites. 
•  Cultural resource  sites. 
• Accessibility and mobility. 
•  Poor visibility. 
• Coordination with  dispatch  and/or adjoining forces. 
• Other  agency  involvement. 
Now that  you have  sized  up the fire  the following  decisions need  to be  made: 
• How  to establish and implement lookouts,  communications, escape routes, 
and  safety  zones  (LCES). 
• How  to  attack the  fire  (direct,  parallel, indirect attack). 
•  Where to  anchor and  attack the  fire  (rear,  flanks,  head). 
•  Organization and  command structure. 
•  Location of control line. 
•  Type  of control line  (width,  burnout). 
• Additional help  needed. 
Considering the  following  factors  will help  make  the  decisions  above. 
•  Firefighter  safety. 
•  Size  of fire  and  fire  behavior. 
•  Fire  environment  (fuels,  weather--current and  predicted,  topography). 
• Forces presently available to construct control line  and  hold  it. 
• Location of the  fire  head. 
•  Period of day  fire  is  burning  into  (morning,  afternoon,  night). 
• Improvements  and  other values  in  path  of fire. 
• Point of origin and  cause. 
• Public  safety. 
Ifyou are the first personto arrive at a fire or a singleresourceboss in charge
ofthe first crew at a fire, you have severalproblems. You are confrontedwith
deciding; 1) whatis the most importantworkto do first, and 2) wherethe most
effectivework can be done. Keep in mind at all timesthat firefighter safetyis
the highestpriorityin fire suppression.
After sizingup the fire you need to selectan anchorpointand makeyourattack.
Followingare some goodpracticesin makingan initialattackor suppressinga
large fire.
•Ifyou are the incidentcommander,establishan organizationand
commandstructure. Makesure yoursubordinatesknow the planand are
keptinformedon changingconditions,tactics and/orstrategies.
•Use wateror dirt to cool and extinguishhot spots.
•Anticipatefuture controlactionwhenthe fire cannotbe contained
• Constructfireline uphillfrom an anchorpoint.
• As afirst effort, keep fire out ofthe mostdangerousfuels, and preventit
from becomingestablishedinexplosivetypes offuels, such asgrass,
thickets oftree seedlings, heavybrush, or slash areas.
•Confinefire asquicklyaspossible.
•Locateand buildfirelines.  Move all rollable material so it cannotroll
across firelines.
•Leaveno significantareas ofunburnedmaterialcloseto fireline.
•To gaincontrol, swiftlylocateandbuildfireline in the easiestand safest
placesfor line constructionthat can be held. Burnout as neededwhen
line is constructedand burningout can be controlled.
• Utilizeexistingbarriers to full extent.
•Iffire spreadcannotbe contained, notifydispatchand do somesafe,
effectiveworkon at leastapartofthe fire.
•Whereimprovements (houses, otherbuildings, fences) are involved,
considerall the facts beforedeterminingwhichpointto attackfirst. No
improvementor piece ofproperty is worth firefighter injury or fatality.
Now a decision  must be made  concerning how  to attack  a fire.  The  methods  of 
attack  are  direct,  parallel,  and  indirect. 
Direct  attack  is  made  directly  on  the  fire's  edge  or  perimeter (see  Figure  3).  The 
flames  may  be knocked down  by  dirt  or  water  and  the fire  edge  is  generally 
treated  by  a follow-up  fireline.  Or,  a fireline  is  constructed close  to  the  fire's 
edge  and  the fuel  between the  fireline  and  the  fire  is burned out  or  the  fire  is 
allowed to  bum to  the  fireline. 
Direct  attack  generally works  best  on fires  burning in  light  fuels  or  fuels  with 
high  moisture content burning under  light  wind  conditions.  Direct attack  works 
well on low intensity  fires  (flame lengths  less than 4 feet)  which  enable 
firefighters  to  work  close  to  the  fire. 
A  major  advantage of direct  attack  is firefighter  safety.  Firefighters can  usually 
escape  back  into  the burned area for a safety  zone.  This is known as  "keeping 
one foot  in the black." 
Parallel  attack  is  made  by  constructing  a fireline  parallel to,  but  further  from,  the 
fire edge  than  in  direct  attack  (see Figure  4).  This  tactic  may  shorten  fireline 
construction by cutting  across unburned  fingers.  In most  cases  the fuel  between 
the fireline  and  the fire  edge  is burned  out  in conjunction with  fireline 
Figure  4-Parallel Attack 
Indirect  attack  is accomplished by building  a fireline  some  distance from  the  fire 
edge and backfiring the unburned  fuel between  the  fireline  and the fire  edge  (see 
Figure  5).  Indirect  attack  takes  advantage  of using  natural  and human-made 
barriers  as fireline  and  allows  a choice  of timing  for  backfiring.  Indirect attack 
is generally  used  on hot fires  with high  rates  of spread  where  direct  attack is not 
Figure  5-Indirect Attack 
The  parts  of the  fire  to be  controlled are the head,  the  flanks,  and  the  rear  (see 
Figure  6). 
Figure  6-Parts Of A  Fire 
Fires  are generally  attacked  where they  are most likely  to escape  and this  may 
require  attacking  the  fire  at the  head,  flanks,  rear,  or  any  combination of the 
three.  However,  your  primary  concern  is  attacking  the  fire  where  it  can  be  done 
safely.  A good  practice  is to always  pick  an anchor  point  to  start fighting  the  fire 
and  to  prevent the  fire  from  outflanking  you. 
Fireline  intensity  (flame length)  and rate  of  spread  generally determine  which 
part  of the  fire  to  attack  in both  initial  attack  and  suppressing large  fires.  Figure 
2-Fire Suppression Limitations Based  On Flame  Length,  page  12, provides 
guidance  to make  decisions  on which part  of the fire to  attack  and whether to 
make  a  direct,  parallel,  or  indirect attack. 
A technique to  attack a fire  where  it  is most  likely to  escape or  stop  hotter 
burning portions  of a fire  is  called hotspotting  (see  Figure 7). 
Figure 7-Hotspotting, Using  Temporary Lines 
To  Check Fire  Spread And  Gain  Time 
Hotspotting can  be  used  to cool  hot  portions of a fire  and  allow  firefighters  more 
time  to  construct fireline  or  cool  certain portions  of a  fire  to  prevent it  from 
making  a run.  Hotspotting can  be  accomplished by  building temporary check 
lines  or  applying  dirt  or  water to  knock down  and  cool  hot  portions  of a  fire. 
Hotspotting can  be  dangerous to firefighters  because they  are  working without an 
anchor point,  can  be  out-flanked by  fire,  and  they  are  exposing themselves to 
intense burning portions  of a  fire. 
Following are some general principles of fireline location:
Locate the fireline as close to the fire edge as possible. This generally means a
direct attack which provides firefighters more safety as they can usually get into
the burned area for a safety zone.
Always anchor the fireline to a barrier or other control line to prevent being
outflanked by the fire (see Figure 8). Barriers can be natural or human made
i.e., roads, trails, rivers, lakes, old bums, rocks. Also burn out the fuels between
the fireline and the fire edge beginning at the anchor point and continue burning
out as the fireline is constructed.
Figure 8-Begin Fireline At Anchor Point
Anchor Points
If the fire is spreading rapidly or is too hot for direct attack, place the fireline far
enough back from the fire's edge to allow sufficient time for fireline construction
and burning out to be completed safely.
Avoid downhill fireline constructionwith the fire directlybelow. Building
fireline downhill when fire (either wildlandfire, burnout, or abackfire) is
directlybelow youcanbehazardous andisoneoftheWatch Out Situations(see
Figure 9). Fire spreads more rapidly upslope. Firefighters above the fire
building fireline downhill caneasily be outflanked oroverrun by the fire.
Figure 9-BuildingFirelineDownhill
When buildingfirelinedownhill allofthefollowing safety precautions
must be adhered to:
1. The decisionismade by acompetentfireline supervisorafter
thorough scouting.
2. Downhillfireline constructionshould notbe attemptedwhen fire is
presentdirectly below the proposedstartingpoint.
3. The fireline should notbeinor adjacentto achimneyor chute that
could bumout while firefighters are in the vicinity.
4. Communicationisestablishedbetweenfirefighters working
downhill and firefighters working towardthem from below. When
neithercrew can adequatelyobserve the fire, communicationswill
beestablishedbetweenthe crews, supervisingoverhead,and a
lookoutpostedwhere the fire's behaviorcan be continuously
5. Firefighterswill be able to rapidlyreacha safetyzone from any
pointalong the line ifthe fire unexpectedlycrossesbelowthem.
6. Adownhillfireline will be securelyanchoredat the top. Avoid
underslungline ifat all practical.
7. Burningout shouldbe done asthe fireline progresses, beginning
from the anchorpointatthe top. The burnedout areaprovides a
continuoussafetyzone for firefighters and reduces the likelihood
offire crossingthe line.
8. Be aware ofand recognizethe WatchOut Situations.
9. Full compliancewith the Fire Ordersis assured.
10. ImplementLeES.
Firelineshouldnot beconstructedinor adjacentto chutesorbox canyonsthat
can channelthe fire and produceextremefire behavior(see Figure 10).
Figure 10-FirelineConstructedNearChuteor Box Canyon
---_.... \\
\ \
Make the firelineas  short as possible  (see Figure  11).  Tie  ends  of fingers 
together  with  a fireline  and promptly  bum out.  Cold  trailing  is  a method of 
using the extinguished edge of a fire  as the fireline.  The  cold  fire  edge  must  be 
carefully  inspected to detect  any fire and every live  spot must be lined  and 
extinguished.  Cold trailing can  shorten the  fireline  to  be  constructed, but must be 
accomplished  with caution. 
Figure  l l-s-Short Fireline 
Capitalize  on existing  barriers  to fire  spread  in  selecting  fireline  location.  
When  possible  put  the  fireline  through  open  areas  to reduce  clearing  work.  
Avoid  sharp  angles  in the fireline.  
Block off high  hazard  fuels  where possible  by leaving  them  outside  the  fireline.  
When  constructing fireline  on  a ridgetop,  locate  the fireline  on the  back  side  of 
the  ridge  (see  Figure  12). 
Figure  12-Properly Located Fireline  On  Ridgetop 
When  constructing fireline  in the bottom  of a canyon  locate  line  on the  opposite 
side to  prevent underslung line  and the  need  for  cup  trenching  (see Figure  13). 
Figure  13-Properly Located  Fireline In  Canyon Bottom 
Locate the fireline  far enough  away from burning  snags  to enclose them  if they 
fall  over  or  are cut  down  (see  Figure  14). 
Figure  14-Properly Located  Fireline  With  Snags  Close  to  Fire  Edge 
  ~ ~ : : : ;  
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/ / , , ~ ..
/' .,
. ~
.... - - - .... ,.. ....
Encircle  the  area  where  spot fires  are  so numerous  that  individual control of 
them is impracticable. 
Where  a definite  topographic  feature,  such as a ridge,  cannot  be  used  for  fireline 
location,  oblique  (slanting) lines  should be used  for frontal  attack  to pinch  off the 
fire  head,  rather  than  a line  squarely  across  the  front. 
Take advantage  of the normal  daily shift between  local  up-canyon drafts  during 
the day and down-canyon winds during the night.  Unless  general  winds  counter 
the effect  of local  drafts,  fires  generally  burn up-canyon during  the  day  and 
down-canyon  at night. 
Linelocationisacommon practice insometypes ofterrain andfuels,
particularly when afire is burningin timber.
When locating firelines, considerthefollowing flagging techniques:
1.  When tying andpositioningindividualflags, allow enough time for crew
ormechanicalequipmenttoconstructline before fire edge approaches flag
2.  Avoidflagging long sectionsofline. Flagging long sections ofline
separates youfrom your crew andequipmentcreating possible
communicationproblems andunsafe situations.
3.  Use ahighvisibility/reflectivecolorwheneverpossible thatcan beeasily
seenindaylight ornight timeconditions. Notify the crews constructing
fireline what color offlagging wasused.
4.  Deploy anadequate amount offlagging for conditions. Flaggingmustbe
deployedheavier for night operations and/or during heavy fuel buildups
because ofpoorvisibility. Resources thatcan'tfind flag lines are
nonproductiveand may be put atrisk during critical fire behavior
situations and/or when working in adverse topography.
5.  Avoid flagging doglegsorsharpangles. Wheneverpossibleflag away
from snags, widow makers, andotherpotentiallyhazardous areas.
6.  Ifpossible avoidflagging underslungline conditionswhich will require
trenching andfuture holding problems. Dependingon the size orthe
complexityofthefire, more than one individualwith radio(s) may be
requiredto accomplishthis task. Whetherlocatingline downhillor uphill,
theoutside perimeterwilltake onanoverall wedge shape configuration
and all unburnedmaterial should be burnedout. On largerfires, an
indirectmethodofattack maybe warrantedrequiringflag lines to take
advantageofridges running parallelto the main fire. The unburnedarea
then should bebackfired.
7.  Ifanexisting flag line mustbererouted, remove enough flagging toensure
crews or other adjoining resources will not mistake the old flagged line for
the newflagged line. This situation cancreate nonproductiveperiods and
expose crews topotentiallyunsafe conditions. Useadifferentcolor
flagging andmake surecrews following behindare aware ofthe change.
8. Atnight, when cold trailing, constructing parallel line across unburned
fingers, and/or flagging indirect line, use two or more individuals with
headlamps. Theleadlinelocator searches outanddetermineswhere the
lineshouldbelocated. Oncethisindividual hasdeterminedthe
approximate linelocation, asecondpersoncommencesflagging staying on
linewiththeleadperson'sheadlamp. Athirdperson maybe necessary
when there arelarger fingers toassistinkeeping the middle flagger on line
withtheleadlinelocator. Thisisaccomplishedby positioningtherear
flagger attheopposite sideofthefinger from the lead line locatorin a
location wheretheycankeepthemiddleflagger centeredbetweentheirtwo
locations. Once allthreeindividuals areinposition, there aretwo common
alternativeflagging procedures recommended. The first alternative
requires the middle flagger tocommenceflagging, working away from the
rear flagger keeping visual contact with theheadlampsofthe rear flagger
andlead line locator. The second alternative requires the middle flaggerto
moveto aposition normally halfwaybetweentherear flagger and the lead
line locator. After the centerflagger is in position, the rear flagger
commences flagging tothecenter flagger's position. After thefirst halfof
thelineisflagged in,oneofthetwoindividuals remains atthatlocation
andtheothercommences flagging totheleadlinelocator'sposition.
9. Spotfires shouldbeflagged andtaggedwithawritten note. Flaglines
leading tospotfires shouldoriginate from theexisting main line. Always
tie and secure anote orwrite directly ontheflagging the following
a. Datefound
b. Time found
c. Sizeofspotfire
d. Locationfrom main fireline
e. Determine ifspotislined orunlined
f. Color(s) offlagging used toflag the spotfire
g. Name of crew or individual reporting spot
Itissuggestedthateachtimethespotischecked, thetime,dateand
individual'snameberecorded ontheinitial note.
10. Itisnecessarytounderstandthe relationshipofthe flag line tothe
proposedcontrolline. This must be communicatedto the resources
responsiblefor constructingtheline. Itbecomesespeciallyimportantwhen
numerous sawteams areconstructinglineinheavy fuel conditions. In this
situationtheflag line isnormally positionedatthepointthat will end up
being the outsidegreen edge ofthecompletedline. The initialsawteam
should commencecutting itsassignedstripjusttothe insideoftheflag.
This providesadditionalsawteams anedge tocutfrom and/oralocationto
placetheir cut material.
11. Always designatewhetheryour flag line istoremainintactduring line
construction. Many times when using asawteam during night periodsthe
operatorwill cut down aflag line in scatteredbrushor timberleavingonly
staubs. This situationmaycausethepersonnelscraping theline tobecome
disoriented, resulting in productionloss.
12. Hazardssuchasbees,hornets, wasps and/or snags should beidentified
using yellow andblackstriped flagging. This isauniversalflagging color
recognizedby most wildlandfirefighting agencies.
13. Escaperoutes and safetyzones should beidentifiedusing lime green
Following  are some  of the more important  principles  of fireline  construction: 
Make fireline  no  wider than necessary  (see  Figure  15).  The time  and energy 
saved by keeping firelines no wider than necessary to stop a fire can be better
utilized  in  construction of more fireline  to  encircle  or control  the fire. 
Clean  all fireline  to  mineral  soil  for  all or  part  of width  (see  Figure  16). 
Cleaning  a fireline  to  mineral  soil  prevents  the  fire  from  spreading through fuel 
across  the  fireline,  particularly dead  roots.  However,  constructing fireline  to 
mineral  soil may not be practical  in  some types  of fuel  such as bogs,  peat,  tundra, 
Figure  16-Fireline Cleaned  To  Mineral  Soil 
Scatter charred or  burning  material from  fireline  construction inside  the  burned 
Unburned material from  fireline  construction is  generally  scattered outside  the 
fireline.  Unburned material can  be  scattered  on either  side  of the  fireline, 
provided this does not increase  burning  and heat  at the line  and make the line  too 
hard  to  hold  or complicate mopup;  if fuel  is  needed  for burning  out,  place  inside 
the  fireline. 
Underslung or undercut fireline is fireline constructed across a slope below the
fire. Protect underslung or undercut firelines from rolling material by building
a cup trench (see Figure 17). A cup trench is sometimes called a roll trench or
"V" trench.
Figure 17-Cup Trench Below A Fire On A Slope
Effectiveness  of a given width of line can be increased by using  dirt or water to 
cool down  adjacent fire. 
Fuels outside  the fireline  can be pretreated  with retardant  or foam,  covered  with 
dirt,  or  wet  down.  (see  Figure  18). 
Figure  I8-Protection of Stumps  and  Logs  Outside Fireline 
Remove low hanging  limbs from trees on both  sides of the fireline  to prevent the 
fire from  spreading  across  the  line  (see Figure  19). 
Figure  19-Low Hanging Limbs Can Spread  Fire Across  Fireline 
Heat can ignite fuel across or above the fireline even if flames  do not reach  the 
fuel.  Radiant or convective heat may ignite fuel on the opposite  side of a fireline 
which is  too narrow  or has too little overhead  clearance. 
Radiation  is transmission of heat through  the  air by rays.  The  heat  may  be 
radiated in  all directions,  horizontally as well  as vertically  (similar to  heat 
radiated  from  a stove).  Fuels too close to intense  heat  can be ignited even  if they 
are not in  contact by  flame  (see Figure  20). 
Figure  20-Fire Spread  Across  Fireline By  Radiation 
Convection is  transmission of heat by currents  of air.  Convection currents 
preheat the  fuel  ahead  of a fire  (across  and/or  above  the  fireline)  and  make  the 
fuel  easier to ignite  (see Figure  21).  If too close,  fuel  can  actually  be  ignited by 
convection currents. 
Figure  21-Fire Spread  Across  Fireline By  Convection 
----   ,,//
./ .--/'  / 
/'  /,/
Anything that affects how a fire burns must be considered in deciding the width
of fireline needed to hold or control a fire. The hotter or faster the fire burns,
the wider the control line must be. Six important factors in determining fireline
width are: 1) fuel, 2) slope, 3) weather, 4) part [head, flanks, rear] of fire, 5)
size of fire, and 6) possibility of cooling.
The width of a fireline is generally accomplished by clearing and scraping (see
Figure 22). Brush, trees, and logs must be removed by clearing a strip wide
enough to prevent the flames, radiation or convective heat or any combination of
the three from igniting fuel across the fireline. All flammable material must be
removed by scraping to mineral soil a strip wide enough to prevent fire from
spreading through roots and other ground fuel across the fireline. The scraped
strip must be placed on the outside (side away from the fire) of the cleared strip.
Figure 22-Fireline Showing Cleared and Scraped Area

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A general guideline for determining the width of a fireline is that it should be one
and one half times as wide as the dominate fuel is high. The scraped portion of a
fireline is generally one to three feet wide. However, in timber a fireline is
generally 20 to 30 feet wide with a three to four foot scrape. A fireline in timber
should be constructed to stop the burning surface and lower aerial fuels. Most
firelines will be unsuccessful in stopping a crown fire in timber.
The "coyotetactic" consists ofaprogressivelineconstructiontechniqueinvolving
self-sufficientcrews who build fireline until the end ofan operationalperiod,
remain overnight(RON) at/near that point, and then beginagain onthe next
operationalperiod. Crews should be properlyequippedand be preparedto spend
several shifts ontheline with minimal support from the incidentbase.
1.  Meals during "coyotetactic" operationalperiods may consistof
rations and/or sacklunches.
2.  The "coyotetactic" generallywill not last over three or four
operationalperiods for anyonecrew.
3.  Divisionsupervisorswillberesponsibleforestablishingonand off
4.  Operationspersonnelwillensure that crews understand"coyote
tactic"policy before thecrews gototheline.
5.  Crews working"coyotetactic" operationalperiods will be re-
supplied onthefireline ascloseaspossible tothe RON point.
Coyote   ~ t i c Guidelines
1.  Can "coyotetactic" meettheFire Orders, Watch OutSituationsand
2.  Canemergencymedical technicians (EMTs) be providedontheline?
3.  Canatimely medivac planbeimplemented?
4.  Can daily communications(verbal andwritten) be maintained?
5.  Can daily logisticalsupport offood and water be provided?
6.  Does eachindividualcrewboss feel comfortablewith the
Crewbosses, strike team/taskforce leaders anddivision supervisors should
considerthe following priorto and during acoyote assignment:
1.  Operations personnelshould considerbringing with them in their
gear atoothbrush/paste, extra pair ofsocks/underwear, light coat,
double lunch, spaceblanket, etc.
2. Anticipatingearlyin the operationalperiodwhere the crew(s) will
remainovernight(RON) and that the RON locationprovidesfor
safetyand logisticalneedsofthe crew, i.e., mainfire posesno threat,
helicopterscan long line or landat site, personnelare providedsemi-
flat groundto sleep on, thereis adequate firewood for warming
fires, etc.
3. Anticipatingre-supplyneeds earlyin the operationalperiodand
placingthose orders earlythrough appropriate channels. Crew
leadersshouldmake arrangementsto have qualifiedindividualsat
RON locationsto acceptthose ordersby longline or internal
4. Bearsmay be avalidconcernin some areas and personnelshould
take appropriate measures to preventproblems withfood, trash, etc.
It is acommonpracticeto leaveone or moreindividuals withradio
communicationsatthe RON locationtocoordinatethe "backhaul"of
trashor the pre-positioningofre-usable suppliesto advancedRON
5. How will crew time and commissaryitemsbe managedduringthe
operation?Normallythis function can be providedby usingin/out
boundhelicopterflights at the RON location, or the time is turnedin
uponreturningto the incidentbase.
6. How will medicalemergenciesbe managedduringthe operation?
An emergencymedicaltechnicianmay needtobe providedatthe
RON location.
Table  1 shows  average  overall  handcrew  production rates  for  initial  attack. 
Table  2 shows Type  1 and 2 handcrew  production rates  for  sustained attack. 
Remember,  these  tables  are guidelines  only as there  are many  factors  that 
influence  a handcrew's  fireline  production. 
Table  I-Handcrew Production,  Initial  Attack 
(Chains  per  hour  per  person) 
Fire  behavior  Conditions  Construction 
fuel  model  used  in  rate 
1  Short  grass  Grass  Tundra  1.0 
2   Open  timber  All  3.0 
Grass  understory 
3   Tall  grass  All  0.7 
4  Chaparral   Chaparral  0.4 
High  pocosin  0.7 
5  Brush  (2 feet)  All  0.7 
6  Dormant  brush/  Alaska  black  0.7 
hardwood  slash  spruce  1.0 
All  others 
7  Southern  rough  All  0.7 
8  Closed  timber litter  Conifers  2.0 
Hardwoods  10.0 
9  Hardwood  litter  Conifers  2.0 
Hardwoods  8.0 
10  Timber (litter and  All  1.0 
11  Light  logging  All  1.0 
12  Medium  logging  All  1.0 
13  Heavy  logging  All  0.4 
Table  2-Handcrew Production, Sustained Attack  
Chains  per  hour per  crew  (Chains  per hour  per  person)  
Fire  behavior 
fuel  model 
used  in 
Crew category 
Type  1  Type 2 
1  Short  grass 
Grass  30  (1.50)  18  (0.90) 
2  Open  timber/ grassy 
All  24  (1.20)  16  (0.80) 
3  Tall  grass  All  5  (0.25)  3  (0.15) 
4  Chaparral 
High  pocosin 
Chaparral  5  (0.25)  3  (0.15) 
5  Brush  (2 feet)  All  6  (0.30)  4  (0.20) 
6  Dormant brush/ 
hardwood  slash 
Black  spruce  7  (0.35)  5  (0.25) 
7  Southern  rough  All  4  (0.20)  2  (0.10) 
8  Closed timber litter 
Conifers  7  (0.35)  5  (0.25) 
9  Hardwood  litter 
Conifers  28  (1.40)  16  (0.80) 
10  Timber (litter and 
All  6  (0.30)  4  (0.20) 
11  Light  logging  slash  All  15  (0.75)  9  (0.45) 
12  Medium  logging 
All  7  (0.35)  4  (0.20) 
13  Heavy  logging  slash  All  5  (0.25)  3  (0.15) 
Firelineexplosives are linearexplosivesthat enablecrewsto constructfirelines
undercertainconditionsmuch fasterand with less environmentalimpactthan
conventionalmethods. The qualityofline constructedvaries from anearly
finished line in lightbrushor grass fuels to alowerqualitylinethanrequiredin
heavy brushand slash fuel types. However, even inheavybrushand slashthe
cleaningaction ofexplosivescanenhanceaccess andeffectivenessoffire crews
who finish the line. Firelineexplosivesare also effectivein falling hazardtrees
during line construction, buteven more so during the mopup and rehabilitation
ofa fire.
Allfireline explosivesare testedby the BureauofMinesto ensurethat they will
not accidentallydetonateinconditionsfound in the field. Theyare impacttested
toinsurethat they will not detonatewhen paracargoedevenifthe parachutefails
todeploy. Theywill not detonatewhen shot with a 30 caliberprojectileand they
will not mass detonateifaccidentallycaughton fire. Onlythosefireline
explosivesthat pass the tests andthat areacceptedonthe qualifiedproductslist
can beusedfor this activity. In conjunctionwith fireline explosives,the
explodingbridgewiredetonator(EBW) systemis exclusivelyusedto ensurethe
safest systemfor buildingfirelines.
As laborand overheadcosts rise, fireline blastingoffersreal time savings.
Smallercrews may beusedto suppressfires becauseless cuttingand/ordigging
hand line is required, particularlyin heavyfuels or groundcover. Increased
speed ofbuildingthe line can save wildlandresources. Sometimessmallercrews
equippedwith explosives can be deliveredto afire fasterthan larger,
conventionallyequippedcrews. Otheradvantagesinclude:
• Brushand otherdebris (fuel and slash) are scatteredratherthanpiled
next tothe finishedline.
• Mineralsoil inthe line isloosenedand easy todig for use in hotspotting
and mopup.
• Afine layerofsoil dusts fuels close to the line and acts as aretardant.
• Blastingisgenerallymore environmentallysoundthan usinghandtools
or dozers.
• Firelineexplosivescan be paracargoedinto extremelyremotelocations.
Disadvantages  of Fireline Explosives 
•   Use of explosives  for fuels management or wildfire  projects  can be 
limited by lack of adequate explosive  storage facilities. 
•   Personnel  using fireline explosives  must be carefully  selected and 
thoroughly  trained. 
•   Transportation and handling  demand  special precautions. 
•   Cost  (very expensive) 
A typical blasting  team is made up of the Blaster-In-Charge, Assistant Blaster, 
and  GuardslFlaggers  (see  Figure  23).  Guards  are  numbered by  the  Blaster-in-
Figure  23-Example of Explosive  Layout  and  Placement of Guards 
Assistant ~
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rP 0$1' /1.
: j ~ ~ ~ Guard
f  Primary Lead Wire
SecondaryLead Wire
Control Module
The Blaster-in-Charge will plan communications  with designated blasting team 
•  Safety 
•  Layout and  firing  procedures 
•  Location of guards  and/or  flaggers 
•  Length  of explosive  that can be  safely guarded and controlled 
The blasting  team should have a clear channel while in actual  operations.  Each 
team member  should have  a radio. 
The Blaster-in-Charge must brief the team  and ensure  good  communications 
within the blasting  team and with personnel  in the division  using  fireline 
explosives  (see Figure  24).  Guards  are numbered  by  the  Blaster-in-Charge. 
Figure  24-Example of Placement of Guards  When  Blasting  
Close to Roads or Any Public  Facility  
After  primary fireline  construction is  completed many  things  remain  to be  done 
to make  the fireline  "safe"  and put  the fire  out.  This  work  is  called mopup.  The 
objective of mopup  is to  put  out  all fire  embers  or  sparks  to  prevent them  from 
crossing  the  fireline. 
A certain  amount  of mopup work is done  along  with  line building.  Mopup 
becomes  an independent part of firefighting  as soon as the  spread  of the fire is 
stopped  and all line  has been  completed.  Ordinarily,  mopup is composed of two 
actions;  putting  the fire  out,  and  disposing  of fuel  either  by  burning to eliminate 
it,  or removing  the  fuel  so it  cannot  burn. 
The principles of mopup  are as follows: 
Start  work  on each  portion  of fireline just as soon  as possible after  the fireline 
has been  constructed and burning  out is completed.  Treat  the  most  threatening 
situations  first. 
Allow  fuel  to  bum up  if it will  do  so promptly  and  safely. 
On  small fires,  all fire  should be extinguished in mopup,  whenever quantities of 
burning  material  are not  so large  as to make  this  impracticable. 
Mopup  considerations on large  fires  include  potential/predicted weather and  fire 
behavior,  fuels  involved,  social  impacts,  etc.  Generally the  fire  perimeter is 
mopped  up a specified  distance;  i.e.,  100 feet,  500 feet,  etc. 
On large  fires,  completely mop  up  enough of the  area  adjacent to  the  line  to  be 
certain no  fire  can  blow,  spot,  or  rollover the  fireline  under the  worst possible 
conditions anticipated (see Figure 25). 
Figure 25-Mopup Area Adjacent To Line 
Search for  smoldering  spot  fires. 
All  smoldering material not  put  out  with  water or  dirt  should be  spread well 
inside the  fireline. 
Consider potential for  problems from  snags,  punky logs,  and  fuel  concentrations 
outside of the  fireline 
Look for  and  dig  out  burning roots  near the  fireline. 
Use  water wherever possible and  practical in  mopup. 
Use  water sparingly, but  use  enough to  do  the job.  Match the  amount of water to 
the job.  Let  no  person use  water alone,  but  always  with  another person with  a 
hand  tool  to  scrape or  stir  the  fuel  while  applying water. 
Add  wetting agents  to  water to  mop  up  deep  burning fuels  such  as peat,  duff or 
needles.  Scrape or  stir  the  fuel  while  applying  water.  In  dry  mopup,  stir  and 
mix  hot  embers  with  dirt. 
Separate  masses  of large  fuel  to reduce  heat  and danger of spotting. 
Figure  26-Separate Masses  of Large  Fuel 
Eliminate all  snags  inside  the  fireline  that  could  result  in  spotting or fire  spread 
across  the  fireline  (see  Figure 27).  Exercise extreme caution when  working  near 
snags as they  can fall over  anytime. 
Figure  27-Eliminate Problem Snags 
Put all rolling material into such a position it cannot possibly roll across the
fireline (see Figure 28).
Figure 28-Turn Logs Perpendicular To Slope
Dig trenches immediately below all heavy material which might roll across the
Look for indications of hot spots. Some indicators are gnats swarming, white
ash, ground which shows pin holes, and wood boring insects. Feel with hands for
possible smoldering spots. Use caution to prevent burning of hands and/or
Portable infrared devices may be available to assist in locating "hot spots." If so,
use with a trained operator.
The following  guidelines for  MINIMUM IMPACT SUPPRESSION are for 
agency  administrators,  incident management teams,  and  firefighters  to  consider. 
Some  or all of the items  may  apply,  depending upon  the  situation. 
Managers  and  firefighters  need to ask,  "Are  suppression and  mopup  tactics 
commensurate with the fire's  potential to  spread  and  cause  resource damage  in 
this  land  allocation?  What  tactics  are adequate  for  the  behavior of this  fire?  Are 
our tactics  causing long-term adverse  impacts  on the  land?  Will  MIST 
compromise  firefighter  safety?" 
One evident tactic  is the  choice  of fireline  to use.  There  are good  examples 
where  cattle  trails  in fine  fuels  on  30% slopes  were  used  as fireline  and  as the 
anchoring  point for  burnout.  There  are  bad  tactical  examples  in  similar or 
lighter fuels  where  blade-wide dozer  lines  were  used.  In  some  cases,  several 
blade-wide parallel dozer  lines  through  grass/scab  areas  were  made.  Dozer lines 
are now  in places  where  vehicle  trails  did not exist,  thus  opening additional area 
to possible  destructive vehicle use. 
Good tactical  examples  exist  on easily  accessible  ground  where  fire  spread  was 
halted  by  engines  driven  along  the  fire  perimeter using  water for  holding  and 
extinguishing fire  spread.  In  similar situations,  bad  examples exist  where  dozer 
lines  were  constructed parallel to existing  gravel  roads  that  could have  served as 
adequate  firelines. 
Another very  evident tactic  that  causes  long-term lasting  impact and resource loss 
is tree  cutting.  A bad  tactical  example  exists  in a situation,  where  up  to 400  yards 
inside  the  fire's  perimeter,  living  ponderosa pine  that  had  minimum fire  in  the 
base have  been  cut.  Instead of using  hand  pumps  and/or  dirt,  the  chain  saw 
served  as a means  to extinguish the fire from  the base  of these  trees,  which  often 
have  evidence of past  fires  extinguished naturally  or by  some  other means.  The 
question needs  to be  asked.  "Even if a tree  is on fire  and  may  never be  used  for 
timber volume,  why  is it being  cut?"  Dead,  standing  trees  are  acknowledged as a 
resource for  some  specific  management objectives. 
•   Evaluate  each  and every  suppression tactic  during  planning and  strategy 
sessions  to see that they meet agency administrator objectives and 
minimum impact  suppression  guidelines. 
•   Include agency  resource  advisor and/or  local  representative in  above 
•   Discuss  MIST  with  other  overhead during  operational period briefings, 
to gain  full  understanding of tactics. 
•   Ensure  MIST  are implemented during  line  construction as well  as  other 
resource disturbing  activities. 
•   Use resource  advisor  to evaluate that  suppression tactics  are 
commensurate with land/resource objectives, and incident objectives. 
•   Use  an assessment team for a different perspective of the  situation. 
•   Use additional  consultation from  "publics" or someone outside the 
agency,  especially if the  fire  has been,  or  is expected to be,  burning for 
an extended period  of time. 
•   Adjust  line  production rates  to reflect  the  minimum impact suppression 
•   Use brush  blade  for line building-when dozer  line  is determined as 
necessary  tactic. 
•   Leave  some  trees  randomly  in  fireline. 
•   Ensure  that  instructions for  minimum impact suppression tactics  are 
listed  in the Incident Action Plan. 
•   Detail  objectives  for extent of mopup necessary-for instance: 
"  distance  within  perimeter boundary." 
•   If helicopters are involved,  use  long  line  remote  hook  in  lieu  of 
helispots  to  deliver/retrieve  gear. 
• Anticipatefirebehaviorandensure allinstructionscanbe implemented
• Considercoyotecampsversusfixedcampsiteinsensitive areas.
• Ifextremely sensitive area,consideruse ofportablefacilities (heat/cook
units, latrines).
• Emphasizeminimum impact suppressiontactics during each operational
period briefing.
• Encourage strike team leaders and crew superintendents to provide
input onfirefighter safety asitrelates toMIST.
• Explain expectationsforinstructionslisted inIncidentAction Plan.
• Considershowing minimum impact suppressionslide-tapeprogramor
video to the crews upon arrival at airport/incident.
• Considerjudicioususeofhelicopters-considerlong lining insteadof
• Use natural openings sofaraspractical.
• Consideruse ofhelibucketand water/foambefore callingfor air
• Monitor suppression tactics/conditions.
• Ensure actions performedaround areas otherthan incidentbase, i.e.,
dump sites,camps, stagingareas,helibases, etc.,result inminimum
impact upon theenvironment.
• Ensurecrew superintendentsand singleresourcebossesunderstandwhat
• Discussminimumimpacttactics with crew.
• Ensuredozerand falling bossesunderstandwhatis expected.
• Ifhelicoptersare involved,use naturalopeningsas muchaspossible;
minimizecuttingonly to allow safe operation.
• Avoidconstructionoflandingareas in high visitoruse areas.
• Monitorsuppressiontactics/conditions.
• Ensure/monitorresults expected.
• Discussminimumimpactsuppressiontacticswith crew.
• Providefeedbackonimplementationoftactics-werethey successfulin
haltingfire spread; whatrevisions are necessary.
• Lookfor opportunitiesto further minimizeimpactto landand
resourcesduringthe suppressionand mopupphase.
• Emphasizeuse oflookouts.
Minimum impact suppressionisanincreasedemphasis todothejobof
suppressing awildland fire while maintaining ahigh standardofcaring for the
land. Actual fireconditions andyourgoodjudgmentwilldictate the actions you
take. Considerwhatisnecessary tohaltfire spreadandensure itiscontained
within the fireline or designatedperimeterboundary.
• Safetyisofutmostimportance.
• Constantlyreview andapplytheWatchout Situations andFire Orders.
• Beparticularlycautious with:
- burning snagsyouallowtoburn down
- burningor partially burned live and dead trees
- unburned fuelbetween youandthe fire
- hazard trees (identify them with eitherobserver, flagging, and/or
• Beconstantlyaware ofthe surroundings, ofexpectedfire behavior, and
possible fire perimeteroneortwo days hence.
• Selectprocedures, tools,equipmentthatleastimpacttheenvironment.
• Give serious considerationtouseofwater asafirelining tactic (fireline
constructedwithnozzle pressure, wetlining)
• Inlight fuels: 
- cold-trail line 
- allow fire to burn to natural barrier 
- considerburn out anduseofgunnysackor swatter 
- constantlyrecheck cold trailed fireline 
- ifconstructedfireline isnecessary, useminimumwidth and depth to
check fire spread
• Inmediumlheavyfuels:
- consideruse ofnatural barriers and cold-trailing
- considercooling with dirt andwater, and cold-trailing
- ifconstructedfireline isnecessary, useminimumwidth and depth to
check fire spread
- minimize bucking toestablishfireline; preferablybuildline around
• Aerial fuels:-brush,trees, and snags:
- adjacent tofireline: limb onlyenough to preventadditionalfire
- inside fireline: remove orlimb only those fuels which ifignited
would have potentialto spread fire outside the fireline
- brush or small trees that arenecessaryto cut during fireline 
constructionwillbecutflush withthe ground 
• Trees, burnedtrees, and snags:
- MINIMIZEcutting oftrees, burnedtrees, and snags
- livetrees willnotbecut,unless determinedthey will cause fire
spread across the fireline or seriously endangerworkers. Iftree
cutting occurs, cut stumpsflush with theground
- scrape around tree bases nearfireline ifhot and likely to cause fire
- identifyhazard trees with either anobserver, flagging and/orglow-
• Whenusingindirectattack:
- donotfall snagsontheintended unburnedsideoftheconstructed
fireline, unless they areanobvious safety hazard tocrews working
- ontheintendedbum-outsideoftheline,fallonlythose snags that
would reach thefireline should they burn and fall over. Consider
alternative means tofalling, i.e., fireline explosives, bucketdrops.
- review items listed above (aerialfuels; brush, trees, and snags)
• Considerusing 'hot-spot' detection devices along perimeter(aerial or
• Light fuels:
- cold-trailareas adjacent tounburnedfuels. 
- dominimal spading; restrict spading to hot areas near fireline only. 
- useextensive cold-trailingtodetect hot areas. 
• Mediumandheavyfuels:
- cold-trailcharredlogs near fireline; do minimal scraping or tool
- minimize bucking oflogs tocheck for hot spotsor extinguishfire:
preferably roll the logs.
- return logs to original positionafter checkingor groundis cool.
- refrainfrom making boneyards: burned/partiallyburnedfuels that
weremoved shouldbe arranged innatural positions asmuch as
- considerallowing largerlogs near the fireline to bumout insteadof
bucking into manageablelengths. Uselever, etc., tomove large
• Aerialfuels-brush, smalltrees and limbs
- removeor limb only thosefuels which, ifignited,havepotentialto
spreadfire outsidethe fireline.
• Burningtrees and snags
- Ifpossibleallowburningtrees/snags to bumthemselvesoutor
down. (Ensureadequatesafetymeasuresare implementedand
communicated. )
- identifyhazardtrees witheitheran observer, flagging, and/or 
- ifburningtrees/snags poseseriousthreatofspreadingfire brands,
extinguishfire withwateror dirt. FELLINGby chain saw will be
lastmeans-considerfalling by blasting,ifavailable.
• Use existingcampsitesifavailable.
• Ifexistingcampsitesare not available, selectcampsitesthatare unlikely
to be observedby visitors/users.
• Selectimpact-resistantsites such as rockyor sandysoils, or opening
withinheavytimber. Avoidcampingin meadows, along streamsor
• Changecamplocationifgroundvegetationin and aroundthe camp
shows signsofexcessiveuse.
• Do minimaldisturbanceto landin preparingbeddingandcampfire
sites. Do not clearvegetationor do trenchingto createbeddingsites.
• Toiletsites shouldbe locatedaminimumof200 feet from water
sources. Holesshouldbe dug 6-8 inchesdeep.
• Selectalternatetravelroutesbetweencampand fire iftrailbecomes
• Evaluatecoyotecampsversusfixed campsite in sensitiveareas.
• Firelines
- afterfire spreadis secured, fill in deep and wide firelines, and cup
- waterbar, as necessary, to preventerosion, or use woody materialto
- ensure stumpsfrom cut trees/largesize brushare cut flush with
- camouflagecut stumps, ifpossible.
- any trees or large size brushcut during fireline constructionshould
be scatteredto appearnatural.
• Camps
- restorecampsitetonaturalconditionsasmuchaspossible.
- scatterfireplace rocks, charcoal from fire; coverfire ring with soil;
blendarea with natural cover. 
- packout all garbageand unburnables. 
• General
- removeall signs ofhumanactivity(plasticflagging, smallpiecesof
aluminum foil, litter). 
- restorehelicopterlandingsites. 
- cover, fill in latrine sites. 
This  section covers types  of pumps,  basic  hydraulics, pump setups, hose  lays,  and 
tactical use  of water and  additives.  This  section is not  intended to replace the 
Portable Pumps and  Water Use,  S-211  training  course.  Safety is  a primary 
concern in  any  fireline job and  will  be discussed as  it relates to  water and 
Water is beneficial to firefighting  because it  cools  through its  heat absorbing 
capability.  Flaming combustion occurs  around 600  OF  in  woody fuels.  By 
reducing the  temperature of the  air  and  the  exposed surface of the  fuels, 
combustion will  be  retarded or  even  stopped.  This  effect is  best realized in  fine 
Second,  water when  properly applied can  reduce the  oxygen supply to  the  fire  by 
smothering.  A  fine  spray  can  saturate the  air  with  water vapor,  or  a  solid  stream 
of water can  block off the  oxygen supply to  the  fire.  If water is  plentiful,  you 
can  literally  drown  a  fire. 
Third,  water dampens fuels  to  make  them  less  combustible.  Wet fuels  will  not 
burn  until  liquid moisture has  been driven out.  It takes  a  great deal  of heat 
energy to  convert water in  liquid form  to  water vapor. 
Whether water is  abundant or  scarce on  your fire,  it  can  play an  important role 
in  the  suppression of the  fire.  Its  availability will  certainly affect how  well you 
manage its use. 
It's important to understand the differences  between the two  types  of pumps 
available,  their  capabilities and limitations,  and when  to use  each.  There  are  two 
basic types  of pumps-centrifugal and positive  displacement.  The  centrifugal 
pump  has  a more  or less  open  chamber that contains  an impeller to move  water 
(see  Figure  1). 
Figure  I-Centrifugal Pump 
Water  lecrvmg  suction  eye  of  i m ~   e r

Picking  up outward  ~ e d
Beginning  outward  travel 
Single drop of wener 
5uctioD  eye of  impeller( 
Impener  van•• 
Pump  body 
Water  inside  van•• 
The positive  displacement pump  uses gears or pistons  to do the  same job (see 
Figure  2). 
Figure  2-Rotary Gear  Positive Displacement Pump 
Although  the results  can be  the  same at the  nozzle,  you  should realize there  are 
advantages  and disadvantages to using either  type of pump. 
• Does not usually require priming.
• Will draft water higherthan acentrifugalpump - 15'to 20'.
• Does notrequire afoot valve onsuctionhose.
• Watermust be free from sand and grit.
• Pumpmustbe shutdownwhennozzle isoffunless there is apressure
reliefvalve inline.
• Pumps cannot be started whenthere ishead pressure on them, i.e., an
uphill hose layfull ofwater.
• Almostalways has tobe returnedto shop for maintenanceorrepairs.
CentrifugalPump Advantages:
• Water doesnotneedtobeclean.
• Less maintenancecost. Can sometimesberepairedinthefield.
• Nozzle canbe shutofffor ashortperiodoftime while pump is running.
• Pump can be started withhead pressure.
• Apressurereliefvalve isnot required, but is highly recommended.
• Pressure andvolume canbechangedbyadjusting the speedofthepump
• Requires priming.
• Cannot draft water ashigh asarotary pump.
• Should have afoot valve withthe suction strainer.
Each type ofpump isbetteradapted tocertainjobsthan theother. The high
pressure positivedisplacementpump maybefound onengines. They use shorter
hose lines but have higher pressures atthe nozzle. Centrifugalpumps arebetter
adaptedfor movinglarge volumes ofwater where lowerpressurescan be
tolerated. This isthe practiceonmost wildlandfires where hose lays are
Ifaprimedpumpis not able to lift water, orits performanceis poor, there are
three things you should considertoimproveits performance. Threeways to
improve thepump'ssuctioncapabilitiesare:
1. Locatethe pump at or near waterlevel.
2. Decreasethelength ofthesuction hose. Thisusuallymeans placingthe
pump close tothe water source.
3. Tightenfittings.
It's important to  understand the  hydraulic  forces  that  influence the  performance 
of pumps and  hose  lay  systems.  These  forces  are:  suction or  lift,  head or  back 
pressure,  friction  loss,  and  nozzle  pressure. 
The  first  force  encountered in  any  pumping system is  suction or  lift at  the  input 
side  of a  pump.  The  maximum practical vertical lift  capability from  a  water 
source  to  the  pump is  approximately 20 feet  at  sea  level.  Lift is  reduced 
one foot  for  each  1,000  feet  of rise  in  elevation above  sea  level.  The  more lift  or 
suction required,  the  less  efficient the  pump will  be  on  the  discharge side.  This  is 
why  a pump should be  set up  as close  as possible to the  water source  to reduce the 
suction or  lift  (see  Figure  3). 
Figure 3-Set Up Pump Close To  Water Supply 
The  second hydraulic force  is head (H)  or back pressure.  This  is  the  pressure 
generated by  the  weight of water in  a vertical column,  such  as the  hose  above or 
below a pump.  When converted to  pressure,  it  will  equal approximately 
one pound per square inch  (psi)  for  each two  feet  of vertical  rise  (see  Figure 4). 
A hose  line  with  a 200  foot  vertical rise  will  exert  100 psi  of head pressure. 
Without considering friction  loss  or  nozzle pressure it  will  take  a pump pressure 
of 100 psi  to  lift  the  water 200  feet  in  elevation.  Head pressure is  the  primary 
force  which prevents pumping water high  vertical distances  uphill. 
The  reverse is  also  true  for  head pressure.  One  psi  of pressure will  be  gained for 
each  two  feet  loss  in  elevation.  A hose  line  with  a 200  foot  vertical drop  will 
gain  100 psi  of pressure due  to head  pressure.  Exercise caution when pumping 
downhill because more pressure can be  obtained than  a hose  can  withstand or 
there  may  be  more  nozzle  pressure  than  a nozzle  person can  safely  handle. 
Figure 4-Head or  Back Pressure 
200  feet  rise  = 100 psi  Head Pressure 
100 psi  head pressure at pump 
200  feet 
The  third hydraulic  force  affecting  a hose  lay  system is  friction  loss  (FL). 
Friction,  anywhere in  the  system,  will  reduce pressure.  The  amount of friction 
and pressure loss  due  to the  hose  depends on the  diameter of the  hose,  its  length, 
its inside texture,  and the  loss  through nozzles  and  other hose  lay  appliances. 
Lined hose  has  a layer of rubber inside the  collapsible fabric  exterior.  Friction 
loss  through lined hose  is considerably less  than  through unlined hose.  Figure 5 
shows  the  eddy effect of water flowing  through a hose.  The  water flowing  on  the 
outer  edges  is  slowed down  (friction loss)  due  to the  loss  of energy caused while 
rubbing against the  lining of the  hose. 
Figure 5-Friction Loss  In  Hose 
        : 0   J ~ D
:>  --; 
----....:IIlo.-;> ~
-7  - ~
~ -;c)-V ---:u-Uu 
A drop  in pressure will  occur when  a fitting  (appliance) is added to  a hose  lay. 
This  pressure change  is  affected by the  following  variables:  fitting  size,  fitting 
bends,  design,  condition, and  flow  rate.  This  friction  loss  should be  added in 
hose  lays  when  determining friction  loss. 
Add five  psi  pressure loss  due  to friction  for each  appliance (gated wye,  Siamese, 
tee, water thief,  etc.)  used  in  the hose  lay. 
The  fourth  force  to  be  considered is  nozzle  pressure  (NP).  Nozzle pressure 
depends  on the  pressure of water to the  nozzle  and  the  size  of the  orifice in  the 
nozzle.  A  smaller orifice  will  reduce  volume,  but  increase nozzle pressure.  The 
length  of a straight stream  can  be  increased by  using  a smaller nozzle orifice. 
However, this  gain  in pressure always  results  in less  volume in the  water stream. 
The  effective nozzle  pressure for  firefighting  purposes depends on  the  specific 
nozzle  used.  Each  is designed for  more  efficient use  at a certain pressure. 
However,  nozzles  can be divided into  two categories for basic  hydraulics and 
pump  pressure  determination  for  wildland firefighting. 
1.  Straight streams,  effective working  pressure 50  psi. 
2.  Fog  nozzles,  effective working pressure  100 psi. 
The only  exception is the  "Forester"  nozzle  which  has  an effective working 
pressure of 50  psi. 
Each  of the  four  hydraulic forces  has  an effect on  the  delivery  of water to  the 
fireline,  some  positive,  some negative.  How  can  you  be  sure that  your hose  lay 
system  will  deliver water to the  fireline  and  with  enough nozzle pressure to be 
effective?  Of course,  one  way  is to  set it up  and  try  it out.  A better way  is  to 
perform a few  simple calculations which  will  tell  you  whether or  not  it  will  do 
the job before you  set  it up. 
The  standard hydraulic  equation for  determining pump  pressure is  as  follows: 
PP =NP + or • H  + FL + A  where: 
PP = Pump  pressure at the  discharge  side of the  pump. 
NP  =Nozzle  pressure which  is the  pressure delivered to  the  nozzle. 
H  =Head.  Add  (+)  if pumping  uphill  and  subtract (-) if pumping 
FL =Friction loss.  The  smaller the  hose  the  greater the  friction  loss  and 
the  larger the  hose  the  lower the  friction  loss. 
A  =Number of appliances  used  in the hose  lay  such  as in-line T's,  gated 
Wye's,  etc.  Each  appliance  increases  friction  loss  and  decreases 
nozzle  pressure  by  about five  psi.  DO  NOT  COUNT THE 
A drawback of using  this  equation is you must:  1) know  the  nozzle  bore  size,  2) 
use  a Nozzle  Discharge and Friction Loss  Calculator or  some  other method to 
determine hose  flow  rate  in gallons  per  minute  and  3) apply  the  determined flow 
rate  to  a table  for  different size  and  types  of hose  to  determine friction  loss  per 
100 foot  section  of hose. 
Tables  1 through  4 display  the necessary  pump pressure  to achieve  50 and  100 psi 
nozzle  pressure  for  1 and  1  1/2 inch  hose.  However,  remember nozzle  pressure 
will be reduced  approximately five psi for each  appliance  used in the  hose  lay. 
Table  I-Pump Pressure for 50 psi Nozzle Pressure (l-inch hose) 
Length Hose  Nozzle  TiR size  inInchs 
in feet  Above Pump  
in feet   1/8  3/16  1/4  5/16  3/8 
100  51 0  52  55  62  75 
100  94  95  98  105  118 
300  52  56 0  65  86  121 
100  95  99  108  129  164 
200  152 139  143  173  208 
500  53  60 0  75  110  167 
100  96  103  118  153  210 
200  140  147  162  197  254 
300  183  205 190  240  297 
1000  56 0  70  110  170  282 
100  99  113  153  213  325 
200  143  157  197  257  369 
300  186  200  240  300 
400  243  283 229  343 
500  273  287  327  387 
600  316  330  370 
Discharge CGPM)  3  12 7  19  28 
PSI Loss/100 ft.  0.3  4.7 1.8  11.0  23.0 
Table  2-Pump Pressure  for  50 psi  Nozzle  Pressure  (1  1/2-inch  hose) 
Nozzle  Tip Size  in Inchs 
in feet 
Length Hose 
Above Pump 
in feet  1/8  3/16  1/4  5/16  3/8 
100  a  51  51  51  52  53 
100  94  94  94  95  96 
300  52  53  60 
0  51  56 
96  103 
94  95  99 
138  140  143  147 
51  53  55  60  66 

98  103  109 
94  96 
140  142  147 138  153 
300  181  183  190 185  196 
1000  0  51  55  59  68  82 
200  142  146  155  169 
224  228  232  241  255 
600  311  315  319  328  342 
2000  0  52  67  84  114 
139  146  155  171  201 
400  241 225  232  257  287 
600  319  344  374 
312  328 
298  405  
3000   53  64  100 0  75  146 
200  140  151  162  283 
237  248 226  273  319 
600  313  324  335  360 
700  403 
Discharge (GPM) 
356  367  378 
3  12  19 7  28 
PSI  Loss/IOO ft.  0.1 <0.1  <0.1  1.5  3.1 
Table  3-Pump Pressure  for  100 psi  Nozzle  Pressure  (l-inch hose) 
Tip  orifice  size  (Inch)  Nozzle  above  Length hose 
1/8  3/16 
1/4  5/16  3/8  1/2 (ft.)  pump (ft.) 
0  101  103  118 100  109  135  200 
141  152 100  146  161  178  243 
101  106  118 200  0  136  170  300 
100  144  149  161  179  213  343 
102 0  109  154 300  127  205  400 
145  152 100  170  197  248  443 
189  196  241 214  292 200  487 
103  112  136  172  240 0  500 400 
146  155  215  283 179  543 100 
223 190  199  259  327 200  587 
233  242  266  302  370  630 300 
103  145 115  190  275  600 500  0 
233 146  158  188  318  643 100 

190  202  232  362  687 200  277 
233  245  275  320  405  730 300 
280  450 107  131  190 1,000  0 
150  233  323  493 100  174 
537 194  218  277  267 200 
237  261  320  410  580 300 
281  305  364  454  624 400 
324  348  407 500  497  667 
368  392  541 451  711 600 
Discharge (gpm)  10.5 4.7  18.7  28.7  42.1  74.7 
3.1  18.0  35 0.7  9.0  100 Psi 10ss/loo ft. 
Caution---Pump pressures over 450 psi exceed the normal  working pressure of Single Jacket, 
Cotton-Synthetic Lined  Hose  (USDA  Forest Service  Specification 5100-186). 
Table 4-Pump Pressure for  100 psi Nozzle Pressure  (1  1/2-inch hose)  
Nozzle above Length hose 
Tip orifice size (inch) r
1/8  3/16 
1/4  5/16  3/8  1/2 pump (ft.) 
0  101 100  101  102  103  106  117 
144 100  144  145  146  149  160 
101  102 200  0  103  107  112  134 
144  145  146 100  150  155  177 
0  101  103  105  110  118 300  151 
100  144  144  148  153  161  194 
188  190 200  192  205 197  238 
0  101  102  106  113 400  124  168 
144  145 100  149  156  167  211 
200  188  189  193  200  211  255 
236 300  231  232  243  254  298 
0  101  103  108  130 500  117  185 
144  146 100  151  160  173  228 
188  195  204 200  190  217  272 
231  233  238  247 300  260  315 
101  105 1,000  0  115  133  160  270 
148  158  176  203 100  144  313 
247 192  202  220  357 200  188 
235  290 231  245  263  400 300 
334 275  275  444 400  289  307 
318  332  350  317  487 500  322 
366  376  394  421  531 600  362 
220 102  110  130  166  410 0 2,000 
145  153  263  433 100  173  209 
197  307 189  217  253  527 200 
350 232  240  260  296  570 300 
394 284  304  340  614 400  276 
437 327  347  383  657 500  319 
481 371  701 363  391  427 600 
414  434  524  744 406  470 700 
514  568  788 450  458  478 800 
280  610 103  115  145 0  199 3,000 
188  323 143  158  242  653 100 
367 190  202  232  286  697 200 
245  410  740 300  233  275  329 
454  784 400  277  289  319  373 
362  416  497  827 500  320  332 
541  871 364  376  406  460 600 
584 419  449 407  503 700 
463  628 451  547 800  493 
10.5  18.7  28.7  42.1  74.7 Discharge (gpm)  4.7 
3.3  6.0 0.1  0.5  1.5  17 Psi loss/100ft. 
Caution---Pump pressures over 450 psi exceed the normal working pressure of Single Jacket, 
Cotton-Synthetic Lined Hose  (USDA Forest Service Specification 5100-186). 
Following is  an example to  determine pump  pressure from  the  previous tables. 
What  pump  pressure will  be  required to  deliver a  nozzle pressure of 50 psi  using 
a 3/8-inch nozzle  attached to  1000 feet of 1 1/2-inch lined hose?  The  rise  in 
elevation is  200  feet.  There  are  three  in-line T's  in  the  hose  lay. 
From  Table  2-Pump Pressure for  50  psi  Nozzle  Pressure  (1  1/2-inch hose),  the 
pump  pressure for  the  1000 foot  hose  lay  with  a 200  foot  rise  in  elevation using  a 
3/8-inch nozzle is  169 psi.  Add  15 psi  for  the  three  in-line T's  and  the  required 
pump  pressure is  184 psi. 
There  may  be times  when  some interpolation is needed to use  the tables,  but  the 
main  thing  to remember is to use  a little  common sense  with  hydraulic 
calculations.  Remember,  the  purpose of hydraulic calculations is to  give  you 
some  idea if the  proposed hose  lay  system  will  work.  Table  5 gives  the  operating 
psi  and  maximum lift for  some  of the common pumps used  in wildland 
Table  5-Expected Output of Commonly Used  Portable Pumps* 
Operating psi  Maximum lift (ft) 
200 150 
190  280 
250  400 
*All calculations were  made  using  1 1/2 inch  hose  and  Forester Nozzle 
with  3/16" tip  and  a nozzle  pressure of 50 psi. 
From  the  above  example,  184 psi  pump  pressure is required to  produce 50  psi 
nozzle  pressure with  a 3/8" tip  attached to  a  1,000 foot  hose  lay  with  a three  in-
line  T's  and  a 200  foot  rise  in  elevation.  From  Table  5 both the  Gorman Rupp 
and Mark 3 will  produce enough psi to accomplish this  setup. 
If a single pump  is inadequate  to  supply enough  pressure  or volume  of water,  an 
alternative  is to use a series, parallel,  or staged pumping  setup.  This  concept 
applies to all types  of pumps.  It is extremely  useful  and important that  you 
understand  the various effects of these methods. 
With series  pumping,  two pumps  are connected  "in-line."  Water is pumped by 
the first  pump  directly  into  the  second  pump.  The  hydraulic  effect is to  increase 
pressure  (see  Figure  6). 
Figure  6-Series Pumping 
Pumps  in  series  will  almost  double  the  pressure.  The  volume  will  be  limited to 
that of the first pump.  This assumes that both pumps  have equal  capabilities in 
term of pressure  and volume.  In field  applications,  the  pressure will  be  slightly 
less due to hydraulics. 
Example:  One Mark  3 pump will produce  a flow  of  12 gpm  and  275  psi.  
By  adding  another  Mark  3 pump in series, the  combination will  still  only  
produce  12 gpm.  However,  the theoretical  pressure will  be  550  psi,  while  in  
field  applications  the pressure  will be closer  to 450  psi.  
The  Water  Handling  Equipment  Guide,  NFES  No.  1275,  available 
through  the  Publication  Management  System  provides  performance 
and  output  capabilities  of many  of  the  portable  pumps  used  in 
wildland  firefighting. 
Series pumping  can produce  more pressure  than the hose can  withstand so be 
careful.  It's a good idea  to use  one or two  sections  of lined  hose  at the beginning 
of a hose lay when  setting up pumps in series. 
Pumps withdifferentcapabilities maybeconnectedinseries. Usually, thepump
withthehighest capability isplacedclosest tothewater source. Then thelower
capabilitypump isplaced "in-line." Thelimiting factor isthe ability ofthefirst
pumpto supplyenough watertothesecondpump. Thefollowing situations
illustratethis principle.
Thefirst stepinseriespumping isplanning the system. This should include:
1. Required waterneeds. Thisshouldbebasedonthedesirednozzle
pressureand volume needed attheapplication. Inother words, you
need toknow how muchwaterisneeded inorder to supply it.
2. Locationandtype ofwater sources. The water source should have
enough water to supplytheusers. The type refers to streams, ponds,
portabletanks, etc.
3. Personnelrequirements. Determinehow many operators will be needed
toensure thepumps canbeadequately monitoredand operated.
Establish communicationprocedures betweenthe pump operators and
the users.
4. Pump, hose, andfitting requirements. 'Determine how many pumps,
hose, etc., willbeneededto supplythedesiredvolume and pressureat
theendofthehoselay.Inmanyfield situations, thehose andfittings
available willdetermine how thepumps are arranged. In some cases, it
maynotbepossible tomeetthewaterneedswiththeavailable
With parallel  pumping  two pumps  are connected "side  by  side."  Water flows 
from each  independent pump into a single hose lay.  The hydraulic effect is to 
nearly  double  water volume  (see  Figure  7).  Ideally,  pumps  should  have 
equal capabilities in terms  of pressure  and volume. 
Figure  7-Parallel Pumping 
Pumps with unequal  capabilities  may be connected in parallel.  However, pressure 
and volume  will be limited by the capability  of the  smallest  pump.  In field 
applications,  the actual volume  produced  will be less  than double  primarily due  to 
friction  loss. 
With  staged pumping  the pumps  are not directly  connected,  but  are operated 
independently from  each other  (see Figure  8).  The  hydraulic effect is  equal  to 
the capability  of each pump. 
Figure  8-Staged Pumping 
Staged pumping moves water to a temporary storage reservoir which is then
relayed by a second pump. The second pump can then supply the water directly
to the fireline or supply another reservoir. An advantage of staged pumping over
series is that the water supply is less likely to be interrupted if a pump must be
shut down for repairs or servicing.
There is no limit to the number of times water can be relayed. Staged pumping is
only limited by the capability of any of the pumps.
Pumps may also be connected in any combination of parallel or series to supply
temporary reservoirs depending on the desired volume and pressure.
It is possible to have several combinations of series, parallel, and staged pumping
arrangements all at the same time to supply water. It takes skill and knowledge to
make the pump combinations effective. The more complex system that is
designed, the more planning is needed to ensure the system will meet the fire's
Once the  firefighter is familiar  with  how  to  set up,  operate,  and  maintain a 
portable  pump,  they  then  must  get the  water  to the  fire  in  an efficient and  safe 
manner.  This  is  accomplished by flowing  water  through  the  hose,  fittings,  and 
nozzles.  There  are numerous  ingenious  methods  for dispensing hose  and  fittings 
to accomplish  this.  Here we will discuss  the types of hose lays,  not the methods 
used to lay the hose  out. 
The two types  of hose  lays  are simple  and progressive.  Both  types  of hose  lay 
may use  either  1 inch  or  1 1/2inch hose  of whatever type  construction that  is 
Simple  - one that comes  straight  off the pump  and goes directly to the  nozzle with 
no junctions in between. 
Figure 9-Simple Hose Lay 
A simple hose lay is easily installed and can vary in length  as needed.  This  type  of 
hose lay does  not have  a lot of friction  loss due to additional fittings,  which  is an 
advantage.  The key disadvantage of the  simple hose lay is that  the  water  flow 
must be  stopped  before  it can be extended by adding  a length  of hose.  There also 
are no  provisions for  safety  should  the  fire  flare  up  behind the  nozzle operator. 
A simple  hose  lay  is more difficult to use in mopup as you  must  either revise  the 
installation process  or pull  large  amounts  of hose. 
Progressive - one that comes from a pump  source to the fire which  has  a series  of 
lateral junctions in place between the pump and lead nozzle. 
Figllre  10-Progressive Hose Lay 
A progressive hose  lay is one that incorporates  a series of lateral  lines  off of a 
main trunk  line.  The progressive  hose lay has  several  advantages  over the  simple 
hose  lay in that it provides  for  a continuous  attack  on a fire. without  risking 
shutting down the hose lay to extend its reach.  The progressive hose  lay provides 
a security  margin  for  the lead  nozzle  operator in that  there  is  a charged or easily 
charged  lateral  line  left  behind  should there  be  a flare  up.  It  also  can  provide  for 
multiple  attack lines  on spot fires across the control  line.  A progressive hose  lay 
does create  a higher  friction  loss in your hose lay due to the increased numbers  of 
fittings  (approximately five  psi each).  A progressive  hose  lay  may be  slower  to 
install,  but  is inherently  safer for  direct  attack  and much  more  efficient in 
To install  a progressive  hose  lay  (see Figure  11) a crew  first  stretches  a trunk  line 
of  1 1/2 inch  hose from  the pump  to the fire  as a simple  hose  lay.  Once  they 
reach the fire,  they install  a gated  wye  and proceed  100 to  150 feet  with  the  trunk 
line to install  another  gated wye, which has a  1 1/2 inch to  1 inch  reducer on one 
side (towards  the fire)  and attach  100 feet  of  1 inch  hose  with  the  preferred 
nozzle.  One person  can then operate  this nozzle to attack the fire  as another 
person  stretches  the next section of the trunk line which is attached  to the 
remaining  side of the gated wye.  Once the trunk line is stretched and the  second 
lateral  gated  wye is in place  the first  nozzle  operator then charges  the  trunk  line 
and returns  for  more  hose  once  the  second  lateral  attack  line  is flowing  water. 
This process  is repeated  until  the fire is contained  or the pump  has reached its 
A progressive hose lay is very efficient when mopup time arrives. A progressive
hose lay from a Mark 3 pump can easily supply three to five nozzles depending
on friction loss and required head pressure. This can efficiently keep a 20 person
crew busy. A progressive hose lay provides numerous opportunities for lateral
lines to speed up mopup and prevent having to move 1 1/2 inch trunk lines.
Figure II-Steps of a Progressive Hose Lay
Hose Lay Safety
Avoid using hardlines (or any other l-inch lines) on extended hose lays. Friction
loss is too great and there may be an inadequate volume of water to protect the
nozzle operator and effectively extend the line as the fire progresses.
Combination nozzles providing a fog pattern will add an extra measure of safety
as long as adequate water is available at the nozzle.
Always provide communications between the nozzle operator and the pump
operator and have an anchor point for the hose lay.
Oneeffectiveuseofwater isfor mopup. Where and how touse the available
water supply is always aconcernto fireline supervisors. Here are some priorities
usually setduring mopup:
1.  Put out any spot fires outside the fireline.
2.  Extinguishanyhot spotsimmediatelyinside thefireline that couldpossibly
threatenthe line.
3.  Put out hot spots further inside thebum,but adjacenttounburnedislands
4.  Mop upallsmokes inside thelineforareasonablysafedistance.
5.  Patrol and/or mop up the entire bumarea until the fire is dead out.
6.  On peat fires, peat nozzles orflooding using irrigationpumps are effective
methods ofmopup.
7.  On deep burning groundfires, moderate to high volume sprinklers are
effectivemethods ofmopup.
Water can be used very sparinglybut effectivelywhen hand tools are used to
expose burningfuels and mix soilwith fire. Wettingagents and foam will
greatly help water penetrateinto fuels andhot spots.
Mopup isnormallyaslow,tediousjob. Waterdoes not necessarilyreducethe
amountofwork required, but it can save you time. Some firefighters attemptto
drown out fire, but find this usuallydoesn'twork. Waterdoes not readily
penetratedeeporganic layers andcan actually insulatehot spots underthe
ground. Thesehot spots can come tothe surface later.
The most effectiveprocedureis tobreakup and scatterburningfuels, then cool
them down with water. Dig, scrape, and scatter-hardwork, but necessaryto
insure that the fire is out and safetoleave.
High water volumes andpressuresatthe nozzle generallyare not neededduring
mopup andoften cause ahazardfrom steam andblowingdebris and ash. Gloves
and goggles should be worn when doing mopup with water. Afew squirts from
abackpackpump caneasily cooldownhotembers. Mopup kits which containa
series ofgardenhoses aslaterals areexcellentfor moppingup large sections of
fireline. Remember, a combination of water and hand tool work is a winning
team for a speedy mopup.
From your fire behavior training, you have studied the fire triangle as a model
for the process known as combustion.
Figure 12-Fire Triangle
The basic principle of fire suppression is to remove one or more of the three
essential components of the fire triangle. This may be accomplished through the
removal of the fuels; by reducing the temperature of the burning fuels below
their ignition point, or by excluding oxygen. Equipment used to apply water
carries out a dual function by excluding the amount of available oxygen and in
reducing the temperature of the fuels.
The water triangle (see Figure 13) serves as a useful model to explain how water,
when applied in the right amount, right form and right place can increase
your success in extinguishing flame and burning fuels.
Figure  13-Water Triangle 
First,  lets  look at how  you  can  increase your  effectiveness through the  application 
of water in  the  right place on  the  fire. 
Figure  14-Apply Water at Right Place 
If water is  applied in  the  right  place,  the  temperature of the  burning fuel  will  be 
reduced below  its kindling point.  To  accomplish this,  the  stream of water should 
be  directed at the  base  of the  flame,  where  the  heating of the  fuel  and  its 
conversion to  a flammable  vapor is taking  place.  The  rapid lowering of fuel 
temperature effectively excludes the  heat  component of the  fire  triangle and 
flaming  combustion is extinguished.  This  is  particularly effective where flaming 
combustion involves fuels  burning at or  above  the  surface. 
Where the  fire  is burning in  the  organic  fuels  below  the  surface,  the  same 
principle applies.  You  must  get the  water down  to the  source  of the  heat where 
combustion is taking  place  to be effective.  Water applied elsewhere is a wasted 
This  concept of right  place  applies  to fires  under all  circumstances. 
Water in  the  right form,  is  the  next  segment in  the  water triangle. 
Nozzles  allow  you  to  form  and  direct a stream of water under pressure  at  the  fire 
(see Figure  15).  The  nozzle  and  the  skill  of the  operator at  the  point of 
application determine the degree  of success  which  is achieved.  Water can  be 
highly  effective or largely wasteful depending on which  nozzle is  selected and 
how it is used. 
Figure  IS-Nozzle Types 
While  there  is a large  variety  of nozzles  to choose from,  the  types  most  often 
used  for  wildland fire  applications  can  be  broadly grouped as: 
1.   Plain:  Plain screw  on  tips,  either straight  stream or  spray  pattern. 
2.   Select Tip Combination Shutoff:  Multiple tip nozzle  such  as the 
"Forester"  six-shooter. 
3.   Single Tip  Shutoff:  Straight stream  or  spray  pattern with  shutoff. 
4.   Twin  Tip  Combination Shutoff:  Combination straight stream and  fog 
pattern with  shut  off. 
5.   Adjustable Combination:  Adjustable sequence from  shut  off to  straight 
stream  or  spray  pattern. 
The  various  types  of nozzles  offer  you  the  ability  to  make  your  selection based on 
rate  of delivery  (gallons  per  minute),  pressure requirements  and  a  variety  of 
water  patterns,  from  solid  streams  to  spray  patterns to  a fine  fog. 
Combination nozzles  that provide  both  straight  stream  and  spray  patterns  are 
usually required  in most  wildland  fire applications  because of the need  to vary the 
water  stream  to the conditions  encountered along  the  fireline.  To be effective 
with water,  the nozzle  operator  must  adjust  water  streams  to the job at hand. 
Solid water  streams  provided from the nozzles  which flow  water  as a single 
straight  stream  are used  where  the ability  to reach,  or distance,  is the key  aspect 
in getting  water  onto  the  fire.  Fire  burning  high  up  in  a snag  may  require  the 
additional  reach  which  you  can obtain  from  a straight  stream.  Where  the  fire  is 
burning  too intensely  for  the  nozzle  operator  to work  close  to the  fire's  edge,  the 
straight  stream  is used to cool the fire from  a distance  so that  closer  work  can  be 
performed later.  In  some  situations  where  strong  winds  prevent you  from 
directing  spray patterns  accurately,  it may be necessary  to  switch  to  a straight 
stream to  get the water into  the right place.  Straight  streams  can  also be  effective 
where penetration into matted  grass, needles  and duff is necessary. 
While  straight  streams  satisfy the requirement for reach  and  distance,  they  tend  to 
use  a higher  volume  of water than  other  methods.  This is largely  due  to the 
delivery  of water  as a solid  stream,  which  affects  only  a narrow  piece  of the  fire 
area treated.  These  types  of nozzles  usually  operate  effectively at 50 p.s.i., 
though  higher  pressures  may be needed  when distance  or surface  penetration is 
Spray  and fog  patterns  offer  the  nozzle  operator more  effective application of 
water because  of the  small droplet  size.  These types  of patterns  absorb  more  heat 
and treat  a greater  burning  fuel  surface  area  with  a  smaller  volume  of  water. 
For these  reasons,  spray  and fog patterns  are used  extensively for  close  work 
along the fireline  and where  protection  from  intense  heat  is needed  for  the  nozzle 
The  final  component of  the  water  triangle  is  water  in  the  right amount (see 
Figure  16). 
Figure 16-Apply Water in Right Amount
When you think about the right amount of water, it is important to realize that a
small amount of water is capable of extinguishing a lot of burning fuel. One of
the ideas which is established early in your career as a firefighter, is that one
volume of water is capable of extinguishing 300 volumes of burning fuel, if
properly applied. Many nozzles are capable of producing a fine spray, which
breaks the water stream into many droplets. Through the high heat absorbing
capacity of water, many droplets can cool and extinguish many units of fire if
applied to the right place and form.
In any given situation, the amount of water required to extinguish a fire will
largely depend upon the fire intensity and the type of fuels burning. Generally,
we can say that more fire intensity will take more water and less fire intensity
will take less water.
Water Conservation
Whenever possible, add a surfactant to your water supply. Surfactants have an
advantage over plain water whenever complete wetting is needed. They will speed
up the wetting of the ground fuels and less water will be wasted through runoff
from the fuel surface. Surfactants used to produce foam work by holding the
water on the surface of the fuel.
Good communications should be established and maintained between the nozzle
operator and the pump operator, by either radio or hand signals. The nozzle
operator should always know how much water is available at the source, since
this could make a difference in what type of action is taken on the fire. In turn,
the nozzle operator should communicate whether the supply and delivery system
is meeting the needs at the fire scene or not.
Personnel with  hand  tools  should work  closely  with  nozzle  personnel.  Mineral 
soil applied  with  skilled hand tool use can be effective  to exclude oxygen,  knock 
down flame  and to cool  burning  embers  leaving  nozzle  operators  available to 
apply  water  where  the  greatest  benefit can be  attained.  Where  water  is  applied to 
extinguish flaming  combustion and fuels  are left  in a glowing  or  smoldering state, 
have  personnel with  hand  tools  follow  up by  raking  and mixing  the  treated fuels 
with  mineral  soil.  The pulaski  is an excellent tool  for  scraping  and  peeling heavy 
fuels,  so that  water  can be  applied  directly  to the  source  of heat.  If a pump 
should fail,  enough  hand  tools  should be available  to extinguish the fire  with 
mineral  soil. 
Figure  17-Handtools and Water 
Know  Your  Equipment 
A lot  can be done  to conserve water  by knowing  which  fittings  contribute to the 
effort,  and  assuring  that  they  are  used.  There  are  four  fittings  which  are 
commonly used  to conserve  water:  low gallonage  nozzles,  the check and bleeder 
valve,  the  pressure relief valve  and  shut-offs.  Let's  take  a look at each  one  of 
these  to  see how  they  contribute to the effort of water  conservation. 
First,  by  selecting  the lowest gallon  per minute  nozzle(s)  to  safely  do the job, you 
can,  to  a large  extent,  control  the  amount  of water  arriving  at  the  fire.  It  doesn't 
make  sense to select a 30 gallon per minute nozzle,  when the same job can be 
safely  accomplished by using  a nozzle  rated  at  12 gallons  per  minute.  Your 
knowledge of the  gallon  per  minute  rating  of nozzles  available to you  is going  to 
make  a big  difference in  your  contribution to  water  conservation. 
The installation of the check and bleeder valve contributes to the water
conservation effort by allowing the pump operator to circulate water back to its
source while starting the pump against a head of water pressure. The check valve
feature not only protects the pump from water flowing back against it when it is
stopped, it also maintains the volume of water already in the hose lay system.
This can be a substantial amount when you consider that each 100 foot length of
1 1/2 inch hose holds approximately 9 gallons of water and the same length of 1
inch hose holds about 4 gallons of water.
The main feature of the pressure relief valve is its sensitivity to pressure and its
ability to relieve excessive pressure on the discharge side of the pump back to the
water source. By presetting this valve to the desired working pressure, water
under pressure which is not needed at the nozzle is then returned to the water
source through a 1 inch hose at the valve. The ability to maintain constant
pressure is an important feature for the protection of nozzle operators. Any
sudden change in one line can cause a pressure surge on the other.
Shut-offs of various types represent the final water handling device used to
conserve water. Hose clamps, in-line tees, gated valves and nozzles with shut-offs
all allow you more control over maintaining water within the delivery system.
By clamping off or shutting down gated valves, you can keep a broken hose from
wasting water on cold ground. Nozzles with a shut-off allow you to move from
one point of application to another, without wasting water where it isn't needed.
Role Of The Nozzle Operator
The nozzle and the skill of the operator at the point of application can determine
the degree of success which is achieved. Water can be either highly effective or
largely wasteful depending on which nozzle is selected and how it is used.
To be effective with a limited water supply, the nozzle operator must learn to
master the use of the nozzle, the shut-off, the pressure and the method with which
water is applied.
Nozzles vary in gallons per minute, pressure requirements and type of water
streams produced. Your selection of the nozzle should be based on the lowest
gallon per minute rating which will allow you to safely do the job. Whenever
possible, select a nozzle which will offer you the versatility needed to do various
tasks along the fireline without sacrificing high delivery rates or gallons per
minute. Spending a few minutes with an experienced firefighter will get you
started in the right direction.
Learn  to  adjust  the nozzle  pattern  to match  the  water  output  to the  fire  intensity. 
As a general  rule,  we can  say that  more  fire  intensity will  take  more  water  and 
less fire  intensity  will take  less water.  Learn  what types  of fuel  models  and the 
fire intensity  levels  associated with them  are attained  during  the  average  and 
worst  conditions to help  determine  what  works  well. 
Always apply  water  at the  base  of the  burning  flame. 
Figure  I8-Apply Water  at Base  of Flame 
Straight  streams  should only be used to: 
Cool  a hot  fire,  in  order  to  get  in  closer.  
Knock  fire  out  of snags  or tree  tops,  where  distance  and  reach  are  important.  
Hit a dangerous  hot spot ahead of you.  
When  it is necessary to use  straight  streams  to cool  a hot fire  or hit  a dangerous 
hot  spot  ahead  of you,  you can cool  a greater  volume  of burning fuel  by  aiming 
your  stream  at the base  of the hot  spot and bouncing some  of it off the  ground  in 
a fan shape. 
Water  can best  be conserved by using  spray and fog  patterns  to absorb  more  heat 
and cover  a larger  volume  of burning  fuel.  Work  the  nozzle  close  to  the  fire 
whenever possible,  you will have better accuracy  and will achieve  better 
penetration into  fuels. 
Learn the effects  that pressure has on your nozzles.  Some nozzles  at high 
pressures  deliver  air and  water  on the fire  which  has the  effect of fanning  the 
flames at the edge of the application  instead  of knocking  them  down.  Straight 
stream nozzles  usually  operate  effectively  at 50 p.s.i.  Spray  and fog  patterns 
usually  require  more  pressure  to break  the  stream  of water  up  into  a fine  spray 
or fog.  They  usually  require  100 p.s.i.,  though  many  will  continue to  develop 
good patterns  with less  pressure.  Aspirating  nozzles  usually  require  pressures of 
more than  100 p.s.i.  to  achieve  the  desired  results  of air induced foam.  Your  best 
opportunity  here  is to practice  with various  combinations of nozzle  types  and 
openings  under  different pressures. 
While you may need the full potential  of the system during  the early  stages  of the 
fire, you  can  usually  reduce  operating  pressures  after  the initial  actions  are 
completed  and increase  your water  use time with  lower  discharge rates.  As  a 
general  rule,  flow  rates  are  reduced  to  3/4,  when  nozzle  pressure is  reduced from 
100 p.s.i.  to 50 p.s.i.  With  good communications, pressures  can  be  increased or 
decreased  to meet  your needs. 
Technique  Of Applying  Water 
Learn to develop  an on-again,  off-again  technique  of application.  This  method is 
used in all fire  situations  and should  serve as the basis  for your  application of 
water.  An essential feature  of this type of application  is a quick  acting  shut-off. 
On the fireline,  direct  a small  amount  of your  stream  at the  base  of the  burning 
fuels  and then  shut off your  nozzle  and prepare  to move  on  working  parallel to 
the fire  edge.  Watch  the line  already  treated,  if the  fuel  re-kindles,  apply 
additional  water  in  a  short burst.  The fuels  treated  are  then  mixed  by  personnel 
with hand  tools  and water is applied if needed.  When  moving  from  one hot  spot 
to another,  shut off your  water  at the nozzle.  Water  should  be  applied 
intermittently on  specific  areas  of fire  to  gain  the  most  from  your  water supply. 
This technique of on-again,  off-again  is continued all  around  the  perimeter of the 
fire until  it is  out.  By  applying  the water  parallel  along  the  fireline,  you  will 
cover  more  fireline  area  and be less  likely  to leave  fire  behind you.  Water 
applied intermittently gives you a better  chance  of applying  the least  amount  of 
water necessary  to do the job. 
It takes practice  and experience  to use just enough  water to do the job and then 
shut off the nozzle,  so that you can move on.  Practice  will  save you  water  and 
increase  your  skill with  this technique. 
Tactical Methods  Of Application 
Four  tactics  commonly used  in  the  application of water are:  hot spotting, 
deluge,  containment  and  exposure  protection.  As  you  look at  each  one  of 
these tactics  of application,  you  should pay particular attention to how  water is 
applied  and what the objectives  are. 
Hot Spotting 
The tactic  of hot  spotting is usually  associated with  direct  attack.  It is often  the 
initial  step  in  initial  attack  with  emphasis  on first  priorities.  The  rule  here  is  to 
attack  the  point  where  the fire  is most likely  to escape.  This  means  giving first 
attention to cooling  down  the head  of the fire  and any hot  spots  along  the fire 
edge  which  threaten  to ignite  new fuels.  The  objective is to slow  down  or to  stop 
the  spread  until  adequate  help  arrives.  Water  is  applied  intermittently,  moving 
from  one  hot  spot  to  another making  them  temporarily  safe. 
Emphasis  may be  given  to hitting  hot  spots ahead  of the  main  fire,  or to cutting 
the fire  off from  making  runs  through  dangerous fuels  such  as young  trees,  heavy 
brush,  logging slash,  or  grassy  fuels  leading  into  heavier fuels.  Flare-ups  are 
knocked down  and hot  spots are cooled  to a safe condition.  As you can  see, the 
key to hot  spotting  is the continual  size-up of the fire  and  staying  as mobile  as 
With  the deluge  method,  water  is applied  in  sufficient volume for  quick  and 
complete extinguishment of the fire.  The  entire  burning area  is  treated with 
water.  The  objective is to rapidly  and  completely extinguish the  fire  with  little,  if 
any, other  help.  This method  is usually  associated with  small fires,  since  the 
availability of an adequate  water  supply is a key  factor  here.  The  decision to use 
this tactic  is usually  based  on where  an agency  may be  experiencing multiple fires 
over  a relatively  small  geographical  area,  or  where  the  fire  danger and  lack of 
additional resources  necessitate it.  In this  respect,  the  fire  is quickly drenched, 
allowing  equipment to be  available for  reassignment to  another fire.  It is  also 
used  where  good judgment shows that the fire  can be kept  from  spreading to 
threatened high  values  in the  path  of the fire. 
Your experience and good judgment is the key to the use  of this  tactic.  You 
should know  how  much water  you have  and how  much  fire you  can extinguish; 
what pressures  and discharge rates  are necessary to extinguish the  fire.  The 
application  of foam is very compatible with the tactic  of deluge,  due  to its  ability 
to effectively knock  down  flaming  combustion and  form  a blanket over the  fire 
which  acts  as a vapor  barrier.  The potential to use less  water  is very  strong  since 
fuels are coated and less  water  is wasted  from  running  off the  surface  of the 
treated  area. 
As with hot  spotting,  work  should  always begin  where  the fire  is  most  likely to 
escape.  If you  run out of water,  follow  up with  hand  tools  working as close  to 
your  original  plan  as possible. 
The containment method  is  a progressive,  stop the  spread  of the  fire  strategy. 
Tactically,  water may be applied in as large  a volume  as necessary to knock the 
fire down  and  stop its spread.  This  method  is often  used  where  it is not  possible 
to perform work  at the  head  of fire.  Instead,  application is  started at  the  rear  of 
the fire  where  the  control  action  can be  safely  anchored to  a road  or  a natural 
barrier.  From  here,  water  is  applied  and  progressive hose  lays  are  continued 
down either flank,  or both  flanks  as close  to the fire  as possible until  the  fire  is 
completely  surrounded.  The  objective here  is  the  containment of the  fire,  rather 
than the  complete extinguishment, fuels  within  the fire  perimeter are  allowed to 
burn  out  or  mopup  progresses  when  containment is achieved. 
Figure  19-Containment Tactic 
Flanking  fires  with this method  of suppression,  especially those  spreading  in one 
direction,  is  a common  practice  for  several  good  reasons.  The  rate  of  the  fire 
spread and fireline  intensity  on the flanks  is often less than  at the  head  of the fire, 
allowing  personnel to work closer  to the fire's  edge  and to make  better progress 
than  would  be  otherwise possible.  Narrower firelines  are  required to  contain the 
spread  of the  fire.  Firelines  can  be  safely  anchored  to  natural  barriers  and  it  is 
generally  easier  to plan  for  and provide  escape  routes.  And  it may  be  the only 
safe area  in which  to work  a direct  attack. 
Exposure  Protection 
The  tactic  of exposure  protection involves  using  water  to  cool  fuels  or property 
ahead of,  or adjacent  to, the fire.  The objective is the protection of values  and 
exposures  which  are threatened by  the  fire. 
Figure  20-Exposure Protection 
This  method  is used  where  priority  is given  to keeping  fire  out  of high  hazard 
fuel  areas,  away  from  high  value  property  and  away  from  public  danger areas. 
The  application here  may be  indirect or direct  depending  on  whether fuels  are 
being  protected in  advance  of the fire  or wetted  as the  fire  directly  threatens 
With this  method,  water is used to protect  fuels  and exposures  by forming  a 
protective  barrier against  ignition,  or by cooling  and  wetting  the  fuels  in  advance 
of the fire's  spread.  By raising  the fuel  moisture  content of fuels  they  become 
less susceptible  to ignition.  The activities to achieve this tend to vary widely 
depending  on the  amount of water  available  and type  of fuel  protected.  Where a 
large volume of water is available,  the tactic may involve  a hose  lay 
incorporating  sprinkler heads  to  protect  a line  during  holding  operations  for 
burning  out  or backfiring or  the fuels  may be  coated  with foam  to provide  a 
barrier  against  radiant  heat.  In other  situations,  where  water  is less  available,  the 
application  of  water  may not  occur  until  the  threat  is  more  immediate  and  direct, 
as during  holding  operations  for  burnout and  backfiring. 
Surfactants  are also called  wetting  agents.  Surfactants  reduce  the  surface  tension 
of water  which  improves  its  wetting,  penetrating,  and  spreading  ability.  Water 
treated  with  a surfactant will  allow it  to  spread  out  over  the  fuel  rather than  run 
Surfactants  also change  the physical  properties  of water.  This  change  allows  the 
water  to bond  to the carbon  (charred  fuels,  ash etc.)  which  increases the 
penetration and ability  to  absorb  heat. 
Surface  tension  reduction will make the fog nozzle  droplets  up to three  times 
smaller.  As the  water  droplet  size is decreased,  there  is more  surface  area  to 
absorb  heat.  This is not readily  visible,  but its effectiveness is there. 
Surfactants are effective in reducing  time  to extinguish fires  in high  hazard fuel 
areas,  high  value  property  areas,  and public  danger  areas.  Surfactants may 
reduce  the  potential for  fire  escape  or rekindle  in  these  areas. 
Foams used  in wildland firefighting  today  are mechanical foams,  so-called 
because  they  are  produced by  agitating  a foam  concentrate mixed  with  water and 
air and are available  from  several commercial  vendors.  Class  A foams  have  been 
divided  into  four  types  to describe  the varied  consistencies that  can be  generated 
for low  expansion foams  (see Figure  21).  Foam  type  is  important to  understand 
how  the foam  will  perform.  A foam  with  a fast  drain  time  and  a 5: 1 expansion 
ratio  performs  differently than  a foam  with  a  slow  drain  time  and  a  15:1 ratio. 
Figure  21-Types of Class  A Foam 
Expansion Drainage
• A clear to milky fluid
• Lacks bubble structure
• Mostly water
• Watery
• Large to small bubbles
• Lacks body
• Fast drain times
• Similar to watery shaving cream
• Medium to small bubbles
• Flows easily
• Moderate drain times
• Similar to shaving cream
• Medium to small bubbles
• Mostly air
• Clings to vertical surfaces
20:1 • Slow drain times Slow
Expansion is the increase in  volume  of a solution  resulting from  the  introduction 
of air.  It is a characteristic of the  specific  foam  concentrate being  used,  the  mix 
ratio  of the  solution,  the  age of the concentrate,  and  the  method of producing the 
foam.  Different generators  such  as Compressed Air  Foam  Systems  (CAFS)  or 
aspirating  nozzles  produce  foams  having  different expansion factors  using  the 
same foam  solution. 
A  10 to  1 (10: 1) expansion of a one percent  solution creates  a foam  that  is 90 
percent air,  9.9  percent water,  and  only  0.1  percent foam  concentrate.  The  net 
result is  a foam  that  is much  lighter than  water  given  the  same  volume. 
Expansion ratios  are  divided into three classes related to  how much foam is 
Low expansion foam  expands up  to  20  times  (1: 1 to  20: 1) 
Medium expansion foam  expands 21  - 200 times  (21: 1 to  200:1) 
High expansion foam  expands 201  -1000 times  (201:1  to  1,000:1) 
The stability of the  bubble mass is  measured by  the  rate at  which the foam 
releases the  solution from within its  bubble structure.  This process, known as 
drainage,  is  a  measure of the  foam's  effective life.  The use of cold water tends  to 
decrease the  rate of drainage,  while the  use of hard or  saline water produces a 
much faster  draining  foam. 
Drain time indicates how quickly the  foam releases the  foam  solution from the 
bubble mass.  Once the  solution is  released it  becomes available for  wetting of 
fuels  or  it  may run off the  fuel.  Foams with short drain times  provide solution 
for  rapid wetting.  Foams with long drain times hold solution in  an  insulating 
layer for  relatively  long  periods  of time  prior to  releasing  it. 
Consequently,  a wet foam is  a low expansion foam type with few  and varied 
bubbles  and rapid drain time which is  used for  rapid penetration and fire 
A  fluid foam is  a low expansion foam type with some bubble structure and 
moderate drain time exhibiting properties of both wet and dry foam  types  which 
is  used for  extinguishment, protection,  and mopup. 
A  dry  foam is  a low expansion foam type with stable bubble structure and slow 
drain  time  which is  used primarily for  resource  and property  protection. 
Personal Safety And Protection 
Foam concentrates are  similar to  common household detergents and shampoos. 
Fire suppressant foam  concentrate,  diluted for  use in  fire  fighting  is  more than 99 
percent water.  The remaining one percent contains surfactants  (wetting agents), 
foaming  agents,  corrosion inhibitors,  and dispersants. 
Approved fire  suppressant foam concentrates have all  been tested and meet 
specific  minimum requirements  with regard to  mammalian toxicity. 
Foam concentrates are  strong detergents.  They can be  extremely drying  and 
exposure to  the  skin may cause mild to  severe chapping.  This can be  alleviated 
with the  application of a hand creme or  lotion to  the  exposed skin areas. 
All ofthe currently approvedfoam concentrates are mildly to severely irritating
to the eyes. Anyoneinvolvedwithor workingin the vicinityoffoam
concentratesshoulduse protectivesplashgoggles. Rubbingthe eyesor face may
resultin injuryto the eyesifhandshavebecomecontaminatedwiththe
All containersoffoamconcentrateor solutions,includingbackpackpumpsand
enginetanks, shouldbe labeledto alertpersonnelthattheydo not containplain
water, andthatthe contents must not be usedfor drinkingpurposes. Ifa foam
concentrateisingested,the individualshouldseekmedicalattentionas soonas
All personnelmustfollow the manufacture'srecommendations as foundon the
productlabelandproductmaterialsafetydatasheet. To eliminatepossiblehealth
problemsfrom prolongedexposureto the skinandeyethe following precautions
shouldbe taken:
1. Whenhandling concentrates, goggles, waterproofgloves (rubberor
plastic), and disposablecoverallsshouldbe worn. Leatherboots
shouldnot be wornat the mixingsite, sincefoam concentraterapidly
penetratesleather, resultingin wet, soapyfeet.
2. Clothingsoakedwithfoamconcentrateshouldbe removedand
thoroughly rinsed with water.
3. Eyessplashedwithfoamconcentrateor afoam solutionshouldbe
flushedas soonas possiblewithlargeamountsofcleanwaterfor at
4. Ifskincontactoccurs,washoffwithwaterandremovecontaminated
5. A non-allergeniclotionlhandcreamshouldbe usedto avoidraw
6. Inhalationoffoam vapors canbe irritating to the upperrespiratory
tractand shouldbe avoided.
Slipperinessis amajorhazardat storageareas andunloadingandmixingsites.
Becausefoamconcentratesandsolutionscontributeto slipperyconditions, all
spills must be cleanedup immediately.
Spills  of foam  concentrate can  be  covered with  sand  or  absorbent material and 
then  removed with  a  shovel.  Do  not  apply  water  directly to  a  spill  area. 
Foaming and  possible contamination to the  surrounding  area  may  result. 
Spills must not be flushed  into drainage ditches  or  storm drains.  Do  not flush 
equipment near  domestic  or  natural  water  supplies,  creeks,  rivers,  or  other 
bodies of water.  If a large  spill  occurs  or  concentrate enters  a  water supply 
contact your local  authorities immediately.  Be  prepared to  provide them  with  the 
appropriate  manufacturer's  information. 
Care  should be  taken  during planning that  personnel applying foam  from  the 
ground are  able  to  stand  in  untreated areas  as they  proceed.  Stepping onto  a foam 
blanket which  conceals objects  or holes  can be  dangerous. 
Foam  Application Techniques 
In  general,  enough foam  is  required to  provide adequate water to  the  fuels.  An 
important feature  of foam  is that  the  applicator can  see  when  enough has  been 
applied because it is visible  and stays where  it is applied. 
No  matter what hardware is used  to produce foam,  it  must be  flushed  with  water 
after  use  to  prevent corrosion and  clogging of fluid  passageways. 
Direct Attack 
Apply  foam  to the base  of the  flame.  On wide  hotspots  secure  the  edge and  work 
toward the  center.  While attacking the  edge,  direct some  of the  foam  stream onto 
immediately adjacent unburned fuels. 
For  pump  and  roll  (running)  attack  from  engines,  apply  as  you  would a  water 
stream,  long  enough to ensure extinguishment.  This  will  not  take  as long  as with 
water.  Leave a foam  blanket over  the  hot  fuels  to  smother and  continue to  wet 
the  fuel. 
Foam's ability  to  wet  and cool  fuels  long  after  the  applicator has  left  the  area  is  a 
key  to  effective foam  use.  Greater efficiency results  as the  applicator moves  on 
to  a new  area  because the  foam  will  continue to work  where applied. 
Indirect Attack 
Apply  foam  as  a wet  line  adjacent to  a backfire or burn out,  immediately ahead of 
the  ignitors.  The  foam  line  should  be  at least two  and  a half times  as wide  as the 
flame lengths.  Coat all sides of the fuel whenever  possible.  Apply  foam  at close 
range,  as  water  would  be  applied,  for  penetration into  ground  and  surface  fuels. 
Then  apply  foam  softly to the  aerial  fuels  by lofting  onto  brush,  tree  trunks,  and 
canopies  to add  an insulating  barrier. 
Medium and high expansion  aspirating nozzles  are effective  for foam  line 
construction  during  burn  out and backfiring.  Medium  expansion foam  can  be 
applied in light  fuels  by pump  and roll in single  or double  lines.  Burnout 
between  two parallel  foam lines to create a fuel break.  High  expansion foam 
flows  downhill  nicely,  creating  foam lines from which  to ignite  without laying  an 
extended hose lay. 
If foam  was used  in the  attack, this may enable  mopup  to  start earlier.  Use  of 
foam in  mopup  soon after  the flaming  phase  is over  helps  prevent fires  from 
becoming  deep  seated in the ground,  requiring  time-consuming mopup.  This  also 
eliminates  residual  smoke, reduces  rebum potential  and  soil erosion.  Begin 
applying foam  on the edge of the bum and work  in, concentrating on hot  spots. 
Direct attack  any flames.  Apply foam  as you would  a water  stream  into  burning 
material  for  best  penetration.  Before  leaving  the  area,  check for  steam  rising 
from the foam.  Steam plumes indicate  pockets  of heat  which  need  more 
A wet foam  or fluid  foam  put on  charred  material  early  in  mopup  does  the  work 
of a conventional fog tip nozzle  and a person with  a hand  tool.  It quickly 
penetrates  the fuel  and the ground  where it lays,  and serves  as a blanket to 
separate  oxygen  from  any remaining  smoldering  fuel.  This  works  extremely 
well on pitchy  and punky  material,  duff  and litter.  For  deep-seated fires  in 
stumps, landings,  and log decks a foam solution (see Figure  21-Types of Class  A 
Foam) is the best type of foam to use.  Application  technique  is no different than 
with water,  but  the foam  is  more  efficient. 
Medium expansion  foam  applied rapidly is an effective  way to mop up a wide 
area of flame  and  smoldering  surface  heat.  The  foam  blanket created smothers 
the fire,  eliminates  smoke,  and does the work of many by  slowly  releasing foam 
solution onto hot fuels.  Residual  heat pockets  requiring  more  attention will  show 
themselves by releasing  steam through  the foam blanket. 
Fire  Proofing  and  Barrier  Protection 
The ability  of foam  to penetrate  dead  and live fuels  quickly,  to form  an insulating 
blanket,  and  to  cling  to  vertical  and horizontal  surfaces  is  very  useful  for  fire 
proofing  and  barrier protection;  whether the  fuel  is  stands  of timber,  areas  of 
brush and  grass,  wildlife trees,  snags,  fuel jackpots, endangered plants,  or  log 
decks.  Barrier protection is achieved with  less  water,  less  application time,  and 
with  fewer  people than  conventional methods. 
The  rate  of foam  application for  barrier protection  depends  on  air  temperature, 
relative humidity,  and  fuel  loading and  moisture content.  Foam is  a relatively 
short-term treatment,  longer than  water,  but  shorter than  retardant.  It  is  most 
effective when  applied immediately prior  to  ignition.  Regardless of the 
conditions,  compressed air  foam  remains  longer than  nozzle aspirated foam. 
Under moderate conditions where  foam  is  expected to  remain for  more  than  a 
few  hours,  application time  may  be  well  before ignition time,  but monitoring the 
foam  blanket is a must. 
The  characteristics  of foam  important to  barrier protection are  its  wetting  ability 
and  its  durability.  The  foam  must  break down  to  wet  the  fuels  and  remain stable 
to  maintain a protective barrier.  Use  the  foam  types  (see  Figure 21-Types of 
Class  A  Foam)  as  a  guide for  barrier protection. 
Dry  foam  Very  slow  wetting,  strong  blanket 
Fluid foam  Good  for  wetting and  blanketing 
Wet foam  Weak blanket,  rapid  wetting 
Apply  the  foam  directly from  a short  distance at high pressure,  as  water might be 
applied,  for  penetration of foam  mass  to  ground and  surface fuels.  For fireline 
application,  most  work  can  be  accomplished right  from  the  line.  The  width of 
the  foam  line  depends  on  fuel  and  fire  behavior factors.  In  Western Oregon 
Model  13 slash,  20 to 40-foot  wide  foam  lines  were  used  successfully.  Apply 
foam  to  all  sides  of the  fuel  when  possible.  Apply  foam  to ladder fuels  and 
crown  fuels  above  the  foam  line.  Apply  as long  as it is necessary to coat all fuels 
with  the  desired amount of foam. 
Structure  Protection 
The  ability of foam  to  adhere  and  stay in  place over  time  to  vertical,  sloped, 
upside-down,  and  slippery  surfaces  is the  key  to  structure protection.  Apply 
foam  to  outside walls,  eaves,  roofs,  columns,  or  other threatened surfaces.  Loft 
foam  from  a distance  sufficient to  avoid  breakdown of the  foam's  insulative 
blanket.  Durability of the  foam  blanket is consistent with  weather and  fire 
behavior.  In  general,  CAFS  foam  lasts  for  one hour  in  hot  weather,  nozzle 
aspirated  foam  for  30 minutes. 
Additional Material On  Foam 
The  following  material on  foam  is  available from  the  Publication Management 
System (PMS)  at the  National Interagency Fire  Center Warehouse. 
Foam vs.  Fire,  Primer,  1992,  (NFES  2270)  
This  nine  page  publication covers the basics of using  class  A foams  and  
discusses their adaptability to present application equipment.  First in  a  series  
of three  "Foam vs.  Fire"  publications.  
Foam vs.  Fire.  Class A  Foam for  Wildland Fires.  1993.  (NFES  2246)  
This  30 page publication explains how  to  get  the  most firefighting  punch from  
water by  converting water to class  A foam.  Discusses how  and  why  foam  
works.  Explains  drain time,  expansion ratio,  foam  type,  proportioning,  
aspirating nozzles,  and  compressed air foam  systems.  Also  discusses  
application for  direct attack,  indirect attack,  mopup,  structure protection,  and  
safety  considerations.  Second in  a series  of three  "Foam vs.  Fire"  
Introduction to  Class  A  Foam,  1989,  (NFES  2073)  
First of a videotape series  dealing with  foam  use.  This  video is  a brief  
introduction to  class  A foam  technology covering foam  chemistry, foam  
generating equipment,  and examples of foam  application (13  minutes).  
The  Properties  of Foam,  1993,  (NFES  2219) 
Second in  a videotape series  about class  A foam.  This  video explains how 
class  A foam  enhances the  abilities  of water to  extinguish fire  and  to  prevent 
fuel  ignition.  Basic  foam  concepts including drain  time,  expansion and  foam 
types  are explained (15  minutes). 
Class  A  Foam Proportioners,  1992,  (NFES  2245) 
Third in  a videotape series  about class  A foam.  Explains how  common foam 
proportioning devices  which add  a measured amount of foam  concentrate to  a 
known volume of water,  work.  Advantages and  disadvantages  are  presented 
(24  minutes). 
Aspirating  Nozzles,  1992, NFES 2272 
Fourth  in avideotape  series about class A foam.  Explains  how  aspirating 
nozzles  make foam, the difference between low and medium expansion 
nozzles,  and appropriate  uses for each nozzle  (11 minutes). 
Compressed Air Foam Systems,  1993, (NFES 2161) 
Fifth in a videotape  series about class A foam.  Describes  equipment, including 
water pumps,  air compressors,  drive  mechanisms,  and nozzles  used  to 
generate  compressed air foam.  Presents  general  guidelines  for  simple  and 
reliable foam  production.  Explains  procedures  for  safe  operation.  Compares 
compressed air foam  to air aspirated  foam.  Presents  advantages  and 
disadvantages  of the system (20 minutes). 
National  Wildfire  Coordinating Group  Publication 
Foam  Applications  For Wildland  &  Urban  Fire  Management,  Sponsored by 
USDA,  USDI, and National Association  of State Foresters  in cooperation with 
Canadian  Forest  Service.  For  a free copy  contact: 
Program Leader,  Fire  Management  
USDA  Forest Service  
Technology  and Development Center  
444 East Bonita Avenue  
San Dimas, CA  91773-3198  
(909)  599-1267;  FAX  (909) 592-2309  
Retardants reduce the  flammability of treated fuels. 
Long-term retardants  are  commonly used in  fire  suppression  and  prescribed 
burning.  They are  more effective on  heavy fuels  than water,  and  remain 
effective longer (until washed off).  However,  the  cost of long term retardant is 
much  higher. 
Short-term retardants  are  more  effective on  light fuels  and  are  less  expensive;  but 
they  lose  their effectiveness when they  dry  out. 
Retardants  can  be  purchased in  clear or  colored types.  Clear may  be  preferred in 
visually  sensitive areas.  Colored retardants  are  more effective to  work with 
because treated areas  are  easily identified, making line  location and  construction 
more  effective. 
Fire  retardants  generally are  not  used much during  mopup.  Water is  less 
expensive and  less  messy for  crews  to  work with. 
Usually,  helicopter bucket drops  are  employed when a water source is  close and 
abundant,  It  would not  be  a good delivery system in  the  case of either a limited 
water supply  or  a  long  turnaround time. 
Delivery of water and  retardant by  aircraft will  be  covered in  detail  in  Section 5, 
Tactical  Air  Operations. 
These are  new  additives,  which like  foam,  expand water and  adhere well  to  roofs, 
wood,  and  vegetation. 
This  section is  about the  use  of fire  as  an  effective management tool  to  control 
wildland fires.  Pay  close attention to  the  emphasis on  using anchor points,  safety 
zones  and  escape routes  during firing  operations. 
There  are  two  general methods  of using  fire  to  fight  fire.  These  are  burning out 
and  backfiring. 
Burning  Out 
Burning out  is used  with  direct and  parallel attack.  In  direct attack a fireline  is 
built  close  to  the  edge  of a fire.  Burning out  is  setting fire  inside the  fireline  to 
consume fuel  between the  fireline  and the  edge  of the  fire. 
Parallel attack  is generally defined as a method of suppression in  which  fireline  is 
constructed approximately parallel to,  and just far  enough from,  the  fire  edge to 
enable  workers  and equipment to  safely  operate.  Parallel attack can  shorten the 
fireline  by  cutting across  unburned fingers.  The  intervening  strip  of unburned 
fuel  is  normally burned out  as the  fireline  proceeds,  (see  Figure  1) but  may  be 
allowed to bum out  unassisted where  this  occurs  without undue delay  or  threat to 
the line. 
Figure  I-Burning Out 
  Burn out these  areas 
The  primary objectives  of burning out  are: 
•  Removing of unburned fuels  adjacent to the  line. 
•  Reducing mopup  time. 
• Incorporating unburnedfingers and spot fires into the control area
during fireline construction.
• Hastening constructionofsafe,effective fireline. A "blackline" is
created andfirefighters cankeep onefoot in the black(firefightershave
anescaperoute backintotheareawherefuelshave been consumed).
Itisgenerally accepted thatlinepersonnel from crewboss onup have the
authority to initiate aburnoutoperation aslong asthe direct orparallelattack
modeisbeing used. Supervisorypersonnel mustidentify tosubordinatestheline
ofresponsibility and authority prior to initiatingthe burn out. Supervisory
personnelmust coordinateallburning outoperationswith crew members and
adjoining forces.
Backfiringisanindirectmethod ofattack, (seeFigure 2). Itisthe act ofsetting
fire along the inner edge ofafireline to:
• Consume thefuel inthepathofawildland fire.
• Change the direction orforce ofthefire's convectioncolumn.
• Slow orchange thefire's rate of spread.
Counterfires are sometimes used in conjunctionwith backfiring. Counterfires
are setbetweenthemain fire andthebackfire tohasten the spread ofthebackfire
when large areas ofunburnedfuel areinvolved.
Figure 2-Backfiring
The primary  objective of backfiring is: 
•   To eliminate  fuel  in  advance  of the fire,  thus  widening the fireline. 
•   To  change  the  direction  of  the  fire. 
•   To  slow  the fire's  progress,  allowing  more  time  for  suppression actions. 
•   To  stop or reduce  the fire's  intensity  and  allow  direct  attack  on  the  head 
of the  fire. 
The decision  for backfiring  is usually  made by the operations  section  chief,  based 
on the recommendations of other  applicable  personnel.  It is  then  approved by  the 
incident  commander and put into effect  at the division  level. 
Backfiring  is an effective  tactic against wildland  fire, but because of the 
complexity,  it  generally requires  more  planning  and  coordination than  burning 
out.  The following  items  need to be evaluated before  conducting a backfire 
•   Current and  expected fire  behavior 
•   Timing 
•   Location of control  lines 
•   Anchor  points 
•   Safety zones or escape routes 
•   Control  line  preparation 
•   Equipment for  firing  and  holding 
•   Firing  methods  and techniques 
•   Organization 
•   Coordination 
•   Communications 
Remember,  the  distance  from  the  fireline  to the  main  fire  is  not  the  determining 
factor  of whether to  call  it  a burnout or  backfire operation.  The  difference is  the 
intent  and  the  complexity of the burning  operation.  With  burnout operations,  the 
planning  process  is usually  fairly  rapid  withimmediate implementation.  The 
complexity of backfire operations  requires  more  thorough planning  and 
implementation.  It often  is  delayed  until  conditions warrant. 
A key element one must  consider  prior  to conducting a firing  operation is  the 
type of fire  spread that needs to be created  or sustained  to safely  accomplish the 
assignment.  There  are three  types  of fire  spread:  head  fire,  backing fire  and 
flank fire.  These  terms  describe  the  behavior and  spread  of wildland fire,  as  well 
as the type  of fire  spread necessary  to  complete  a burnout and/or  backfire. 
Head Fire 
A head  fire  is  generally  a fire  front  spreading  with  the  wind.  However,  a fire 
front spreading  uphill  against  the wind could  also be  termed  a head  fire  if the 
angle of the flames,  with respect  to the unburned fuels,  is less  than  90 degrees 
(see Figure  3).  Head  fire  spread may  develop  rapid  and intense runs,  strong 
convection  columns,  and consume  large  amounts  of fuel  in  a short  period of time. 
Do  not  confuse  head  fire  with  head  firing  (see  Figure  13). 
Figure  3-Head Fire. 
t\ead Fire

/   ~  
Backing Fire 
A backing fire  is  generally a fire  front  spreading against the  wind.  However,  a 
fire  front  spreading downhill with  the  wind  would also  be  termed a backing fire 
if the angle  of the flames,  with respect to the unburned  fuels,  is more  than 
90 degrees  (see  Figure  4). 
Figure 4-Backing Fire 
~ \ n   Fire
O ~  
A fire spreading on level or downward  sloping ground  with no wind  is also  a 
backing fire.  This type of fire  spread involves backing  fire  downhill  (see Figure 
5) or into the wind  (see Figure  6).  Fire is  started  along  a natural  or  constructed 
barrier  such as a road or fireline  and is allowed to back  into the  wind  or  down  a 
slope.  Using  this  type  of fire  spread results  in  a low  intensity fire  and minimum 
scorch height,  and provides  maximum  safety for firing  personnel.  A 
disadvantage  is  that  it  is  time  consuming.  Do  not confuse  this  type  of fire 
spread  with  back  firing. 
Figure 5-Backing Fire  (Slope Condition). 
Backing  Fire 
Figure  6-Backing Fire  (Wind Condition)  
Flank Fire 
A flank  fire is  a  fire  spreading perpendicular to  the  direction of the  wind. 
However,  a flanking  fire  is  generally associated with  a firing  operation (burnout 
and/or backfire).  Fire  is  set  along  a control line  parallel to  the  wind and  allowed 
to  spread at right angles,  toward the  main  fire.  A  principle use  of flanking  fire  is 
to  secure  the  flanks  of a head fire  or backing fire  as they  progress.  Utilizing this 
kind of fire  spread allows  for  very  little variation in  wind direction  and  requires 
coordination and  timing  to  get  the  ignited flanking  fire  to  burn into  the  main fire 
(see  Figure 7). 
Figure 7-Flank Fire 
Fireline  •
There  are  six ignition techniques  and many  variations commonly used  in 
conjunction with  the  three  fire  spread  types  (head,  backing, flank).  The  ignition 
techniques  include  strip  firing,  blowhole firing,  spot  firing,  ring/perimeter 
firing,  chevron firing,  and  burn  strip.  These  ignition techniques  are  used in  both 
burning  out  and  backfiring.  Remember,  it is the  method of attack  (direct, 
parallel,  indirect)  and  complexity that  determines  whether a firing  operation is  a 
burnout or  backfire.  The  ignition technique  and  fire  spread type  used primarily 
control  the  rate  of ignition,  intensity,  and  spread  direction of a firing  operation. 
In most  ignition techniques the  fireline  becomes  the  escape route  for  the  firing 
personnel.  In  all  firing  operations  adequate  anchor  points,  escape 
routes,  and  safety  zones  must  be  established  and  identified  prior  to 
beginning  firing  operations. 
Strip  Firing 
This is the most  commonly used ignition technique.  It involves setting  fire  to one 
or more  strips  of fuel  and  allowing  the  strips  to  burn together.  Lighting 
numerous  strips  allows  fast  area ignition.  By varying the  width  of the  strips  and 
their location in  relation to the  slope  and/or  wind  direction a means  of regulating 
the fire's intensity can be provided (see Figures  8-11). 
Figure  8-Strip Firing  (Favorable  Wind) 
Anchor Point 
Figure 9-Strip Firing  (Favorable  Slope) 
Main  Fire 
-.....--.- Fireline 
Figure  10-Strip Firing  (Adverse  Wind) 
Fireline ------
Figure  II-Strip Firing  (Adverse  Slope) 
n   h o r ~  
~   BackfirelBurnout 
A  concept referred to  as  the  "One,  Two,  Three  - Three,  Two,  One"  (1-2-3/3-2-1) 
is  commonly used by  crew firing  organizations during  strip  firing  operations  (see 
Figure  12). 
Figure  12-"One, Two,  Three  - Three,  Two,  One"  (1-2-3/3-2-1) 
Example  1 - "1-2-3" Concept  
Lighter #1  is  Always  Closest to  the  Control  Line  
Direction of Firing

Lighter #2 
Lighter #3 
Example 2 - "3-2-1" Concept  
Lighter #1  is  Always  Closest to  the  Control  Line  
Direction of Firing

Wind Direction 
Lighter #2 
and/or Upslope 
Lighter #1   
Control Line 
When  a firing  operation requires  two  or  more  lighting  personnel,  each  lighter is 
assigned  a  number,  i.e.,  lighter 1,  lighter 2,  lighter 3,  etc.  The  lighter 1 
position  is always the closest to the control  line.  Depending on the  wind  and/or 
slope  conditions,  lighter 1 may  not  always  be  the  lead  lighter. 
Example  1 of Figure  12 represents  wind/slope  conditions  (normally  considered 
adverse)  that  require  lighter I to  function  as  the  lead  lighter with  lighters 2 
and 3 following  behind.  This  example  is  referred to  as the  "1-2-3" firing 
Example 2 of Figure  12 represents  wind/slope conditions  (normally  considered 
favorable)  that  allow  lighter 3 to  function  as  the  lead  lighter with  lighters 2 
and  1 following  behind.  This  is  referred to  as  the  "3-2-1"  firing  organization. 
The common element within  the concept  is lighter I is always  the closest to the 
control  line  in  both  firing  organizations. 
In addition,  firing  team  personnel can be  given  commands incorporating depth 
and  width  of  strips  when  using  two  or  more  lighters  during  various  firing 
operations.  In  a  strip firing  operation the  entire  command would  be  relayed to 
the firing  team  by the firing  boss  as in this example:  "Your firing  specifications 
are  to  1-2-3 strip  with  50-20  spacing."  Translated:  There  are  three  lighters 
assigned,  lighter 2's strip is 50 feet behind  and 20 feet  deeper  into  the unburned 
fuel  from  lighter  1.  Lighter 3 is  50 feet  behind  and  20 feet  deeper into  the 
unburned fuel  from  lighter 2.  If burning  conditions  allow,  lighter I walks  a 
position up  to  20 feet  inside  the unburned fuel  from  the  control  line.  If 
conditions  do  not  allow  for  lighter I to  take  the  entire  first  20  feet,  that  lighter 
can  vary  the  depth  of the  strip to  regulate  the  required level  of fire  intensity in 
relation  to control  line  specifications and the abilities  of the holding  resources. 
This  concept adapts readily  to most firing  operations  and is easily  understood by 
crew  personnel. 
Head Firing  or  Strip Head  Firing 
Head firing  or  strip head  firing  involves  setting fire  and allowing  the  wind  or 
slope to carry  the head  fire  (see Figure  13).  Head  firing  results  in a high 
intensity fire, but  consumption  of fuels can be spotty because  of rapid  rate  of 
Figure  13-Head Firing 
With the Wind  With the Slope 
BackfirelB urnout 
Blowhole Firing 
The  purpose of blowhole firing  is  to fire  shorter sections  at  a time  making the 
control line  easier for  crews  to  hold. 
This  ignition technique can  be  very  dangerous for  the  lighting personnel.  It 
should  be  used  only  by  experienced firefighters  with  stringent and  constant 
observation of lighters  at  all times. 
Blowhole firing,  when  used  in advance  of a fire,  is  normally conducted as an 
indirect attack  and  backfire operation (see  Figure  14).  Firing commences  from 
the  control line  on  a 45  degree  angle  towards  the  main  fire  to  a point dictated by 
the  current fire  behavior and  other conditions  and  then  the  strips  are  turned back 
to the  control line.  The  depth  of firing  is  determined by  personnel safety,  wind, 
slope  and  desired effect.  This  technique,  when  hand  fired,  should be  practiced 
only  where  the  firing  area  can  be  traversed fairly  easily on  foot. 
Figure  14-Blowhole Firing  Backfiring Against the  Wind (1-2-3  Organization) 
It is  more  commonly used  on  the  flanks  as  a form  of strip  firing  when crews  are 
making direct  or  parallel attack.  When  used  on  the  flanks,  strips  are  fired  on  a 
45 degree  angle  downhill  or  into  the  wind.  One  or  more  strips  are  lit  (either by 
aerial  device  or  hand  fired)  on  a 45  degree  angle  from  the  control line  towards 
the  main  fire  to  a point (determined by  the  current conditions)  and  then  back to 
the  control line  (see  Figure  15). 
Figure  IS-Blowhole Firing  (Backfiring/Buming  Out  on  Flanks) 
3 2 1
Spot  Firing 
This technique allows  fast ignition and elimination of pockets of heavy fuel  when 
fine  fuel  moistures  are  high. 
This  technique employs  a series  of small  spot fires.  These  spot  fires  bum in  all 
directions and  come  together,  minimizing the  possibility of anyone spot  gaining 
sufficient momentum to  start  a hot  run.  Timing and  spacing of spot  ignitions is 
the key  to  successful application of this  technique (see Figure  16).  Aerial 
mounted firing  devices  produce this  type  fire.  Spot  firing  is  commonly used in 
conjunction  with  strip  firing.  Do not confuse this technique with spot
Figure  16-Spot Firing 
Ring  Firing 
This technique is generally  used  as an indirect attack  and backfire operation.  It 
involves  circling the perimeter of an area  with  a control  line  and  then  firing  the 
entire  perimeter (see  Figure  17).  Ring  firing  is  often  used  to  burn  out  around 
structures,  preserve historic  or  archeological  sites,  or  protect endangered species. 
However,  firing  personnel may  not have  a strong  anchor  point  to commence 
firing.  Escape  routes  and safety zones must be established. 
Figure  17-Ring Firing 
W   N ~  
Chevron  Firing 
This technique is generally used  during  prescribed fire  application.  It establishes 
a line  of fire  in  a V-shaped pattern to burn  off ridge  points  or  ends.  The  burn 
progression must  be  down  hill.  Chevron  Firing  should  be  used  in  combination 
with  other firing  techniques.  When  hand  firing,  this  technique  requires  three  or 
more lighters.  The  lead  lighter is the  center/point position and  generally initiates 
the  first  strip  from  the  top  of the  ridge  working  downhill.  Lighters  spaced at  left 
and right  positions are  determined on  personnel  safety  in  relation to  topography, 
fuels,  and  fire  behavior conditions (see Figure  18).  Using  aerial  ignition devices 
provides  the greatest amount  of personnel safety  and  expedites the  overall 
Figure  18-Chevron Firing 
Top  View 

Side  View  
Burn  Strip 
Generally this  technique is  used more as  a line construction method rather than an 
actual ignition technique.  Two parallel control lines  are  constructed,  i.e.,  dozer 
lines,  dozer/highway combination, wet  lines in  light fuels,  etc.,  and  then the  inner 
lying fuel  is  burned out.  This  concept is  commonly used along existing roadways 
as  a means  of hazard reduction and  presuppression effort (see  Figures  19  &  20). 
Figure  19-Burn Strip  (Backfiring  in  Front of Head Fire) 
Bum at  Anchor Points  First 
Figure  20-Burn Strip  
(Burning Out Between Two Parallel Control Lines as  a Line  
Construction Method or Hazard Reduction Along Roadways)  
      _   _ ~ ~
~ 3  
- - - _ _  _  _ _  _ Highway  _ 
Beforefiring operations canbegin, control lines must belocatedto safely meet
control objectives. Firelines shouldbetied or anchoredto safe points ofcontrol.
Examples ofanchor points are:high points, barriers (both natural and human
made), recentlyburnedareas, other fuel voids, orfirelines in adjacentdivisions.
Proper timing is essentialinconductingasuccessfulfiring operation. There are
severalpoints toconsider. Conditions mustbegoodenough topermita
reasonably clean bum. Firing tooearly inthe day ortoo late inthe evening
might result in unburnedislands offuels, potentialfor reburn, and mopup
problems. Iffire behaviorconditions are too extreme, or there is not enough
time,firing must be suspended until morefavorable conditionsexist. Finally,
andperhaps most importantly, the mainfire can approach and threatenthe
control line atdifferentpoints andtimes; thus,firing must be done in aplanned
sequence, withthose areaspresenting themost serious threat to controlbeing
attended tofirst.
When organizingafiring operation, rememberthese basic principles:
• Don'tjeopardizepersonnel orequipment.
• Keepfiringcrews assmallaspossible andonlyusetrainedpersonnel.
It'simportantthatonly oneindividual bein charge ofthe entire
• Knowthechain-of-commandanduseit. Remember, personnelshould
be allocated forfiring, holding andlookoutduties.
Communicationsareadifficultbut extremelyimportantarea tomanage. Here
arefiveessential considerations whendealingwithcommunication:
• Advise your supervisor ofpreparations, schedules, logistics and supply
needs before firing.
• Establish radio communicationswithkey personnel.
• Briefall involvedpersonnelonthe firing plan.
• Check forthelatest weatherforecast.
• Report progress andresults ofthe operationto your supervisor. Keep
people informedasthe operationprogresses.
Remember,  the  single  most  important factor  during  any  tactical  firing  operation 
is personnel  safety.  Provide  the necessary  communications to  safely  perform the 
assignment  and keep firing  personnel  and adjoining  forces  advised  of conditions. 
When  necessary  secure  the  corners  and control  line  as anchor  points  prior  to 
igniting  the  firing  operation.  Figure  21 is  an example  of securing  corners  as 
anchor  points. 
Figure  21-Secure Corners  As  Anchor  Points 
Main Fire
Begin  firing  from  higher  elevation and  work  downhill.  This  will  prevent intense 
uphill runs.  An exception  is when  strong,  steady  downhill  winds  are  present. 
To hold  a line  with  a smaller  defensive  force,  light  the  line  to give  a narrow 
flame  front  to  the  line. 
-- ---
When  firing  from  a ridgeline,  start  from  the  back side  of the  ridge,  not  on  top 
(see  Figure  22). 
Figure  22-Firing From A  Ridgeline 
/ Control Line
If the main  fire  is backing down  one  slope  in a V-shaped canyon, begin firing  a 
short  distance from  the  bottom of the  slope  on which the  fire  is burning  (see 
Figure  23).  However,  a head  fire  may  be too  intense and  you  might want  to  use 
strip  firing. 
Figure  23-Firing In  V-Shaped Canyons 
Control Line
Main Fire BackingJ
Down Slope .£_l 

~ B e g i n Firing
When firing  a  saddle  bum into  the  saddle  simultaneously from  both directions.  
In Figure 24  firing  would begin at points  A  and  C  at the  same  time.  From points  
A and  C firing  would continue simultaneous reaching point B  about the  same  
Figure 24-Firing Saddles 
,.-----------------,  ..---------------

Control Line---
Control Line---
Equipment that  can  be  used  in  a firing  operation includes primary devices  and 
secondary devices.  Primary devices are:  fusees,  drip  torches,  matches,  and 
natural fire.  Secondary devices  are:  pneumatic torches,  propane torches,  Very 
pistols,  flare  pen,  fusee  launchers,  blivets,  power flame  throwers,  Burnol 
Bursters, helitorches,  ping-pong ball  machine,  and  fusee  gatling gun. 
Fusee-This is  the  most  widely used  firing  device.  It  projects  very  hot  flame, 
can  be  broken into  sections, ignited, extinguished,  and  re-ignited;  burns 
approximately 20 minutes depending on  size;  and  comes in boxes of 72  each. 
The fusee  is most  effective in dry,  light,  continuous fuels  and  is classified as  a 
"Flammable Solid" by  the  Department of Transportation  (DOT). 
Drip  Torch-A hand-held  device,  the  drip  torch  incorporates  fuel  oil  (or 
diesel)  mixed with  gasoline  (normally  3 parts  oil  or  diesel  to  1 part gasoline), 
which  is  dripped from  the  canister past  a flaming  wick  to be  ignited.  This  device 
works  well  on  almost all fuel  types  and  is used  for  long  firing  jobs.  One  full  tank 
used judiciously can  last  approximately I hour.  Diesel fuel  is  classified as  a 
"combustible liquid," and gasoline is classified as a "flammable liquid." 
Diesel/gasoline is classified as "flammable." 
Matches-Kitchen (wooden)  preferable, but  paper matches  also  are  effective 
when  ignition is easily  attainable.  Best in light dry  fuels,  used in  conjunction with 
other firing  devices  as  a  source of ignition. 
Natural  Fire-During direct-line  construction,  natural  fire  is  normally  readily 
available and  can  be  moved with  hand  tools  or  hand carried.  Examples  are:  hot 
coals,  yucca stalks  or  pine  boughs,  cedar bark,  slash,  or palm fronds. 
Pneumatic  Torch-This device  incorporates  a  backpack tank with diesel fuel 
under pressure expelled through a nozzle past a burning wick.  Torches can 
project burning fuel  from  8 to  20  feet,  depending  on  model,  and  can  be  used to 
apply  diesel fuel  to heavy fuels  when  ignition is  slow,  difficult,  or  sparse. 
Torches  can  be  used  to  supplement fusees  and drip  torches when they  are 
Propane  Torch-A canister of liquefied propane gas  (LPG)  with  hose,  nozzle, 
and  pilot light produces a very  hot  flame  but  with  little lasting effect if fuels  are 
moist.  This  is  generally a hand-held device,  but  it can  also  be  mounted in  the 
back of a  trailer or  pickup.  This  type  of torch projects flames  up  to  4 feet.  LPG 
is classified as a "flammable gas." 
Very  Pistol-This is  a  hand  pistol  varying  in  diameter from  12 gauge  to 
25 mm.  Most  effective in  dry,  light,  continuous  ground fuels,  the  Very  pistol, 
allows  remote  ignition.  Burning  time  is  approximately  8 seconds.  Effective 
range  varies  from  50 to 200 feet,  depending  on the  size of the  ordnance and 
whether fired  uphill  or  downhill.  The  Very  pistol  requires  special  training; 
(follow  agency  policy)  and is not  advised  for  aerial  application from  helicopters 
due  to  shots  being  fired  into  rotor  arc,  skid  system  and/or  within the  helicopter 
itself.  Ammunition is classified as a "Class  C Explosive." 
Flare Pen-This is  a hand-held cylindrical device  resembling  an  over-sized pen 
that launches  small flares  using  a spring  or trigger  device.  It  is best  suited  for 
dry,  light,  continuous  ground  fuels,  allows  remote  ignition,  has  a burning time  of 
approximately  5 seconds,  and  an  effective  range  from  50 to  150 feet,  depending 
on the  size of the  ordinance  and whether  fired  uphill  or downhill.  This  device 
requires  special  training  (follow  agency  policy)  and is  not  recommended for 
aerial  application from  helicopters  due  to  shots  being  fired  into  rotor  arc,  skid 
system  and/or  within  the helicopter itself.  Ammunition is classified as a "Class C 
Fusee Launcher-This device  consists  of a launch  tube  with  hose  and  an  air 
compressor that uses  100 to  130 psi of pressure  to launch  standard fusees.  Best 
suited  in  dry,  light  continuous  ground  fuels.  Bums approximately  20 minutes 
depending  on  size.  Launches  fusees  approximately 600 feet  depending on terrain 
and air  pressure setting.  This  device  requires  special  training  (follow  agency 
policy)  and is classified as a "flammable solid" by the DOT. 
Blivet-This is a  sealed  plastic  bag  containing a jelled fuel  mixture,  typically 
diesel and gasoline.  The blivet  works best in heavy  and slightly damp  fuels  such 
as slash or piles.  It is useful  in rolling  and hilly  terrain.  Plastic  bags  of jelled 
fuel  are primarily hand  placed,  but  can be thrown.  If hand  placed,  they  should  be 
lit with  a fusee.  They  can be equipped  with  a section of igniter cord,  lit and hand 
thrown.  Jelled gasoline/diesel and igniter cord  are  subject  to  49 CFR  Part  397 
(Hazardous  Materials). 
Power  Flame  Thrower-(Power flame-thrower  sold  as  Terra  Torch  TM  by 
Firecon,  model  6430  portable  torch,  and Hot  Shot TM by  Simplex,  model  6410) 
Similar  to  a military  flame-thrower,  the device  has  a mixing  and  storage  tank, 
positive  displacement pump,  and a firing wand.  Jelled  gas is sent through the 
pump  and ignited by  a propane  (LPG)  lighter.  It projects  hot,  high-volume 
flaming  jelled fuel  approximately  20 to  150 feet,  depending  on  terrain  and  pump 
pressure.  Fuels  are coated,  producing  a lasting  effect.  This  device  requires 
special training  (follow agency policy).  Jelled gasoline/diesel is classified as a 
"flammable liquid." 
Canisters-(Canister backfiring devices  sold  as  Burnol  TM.)  Burnol TM 
backfiring devices  consist  of pint or quart  sized metal  containers of gelled  fuel 
(napalm)  and a No.6 fuse  cap  with  a 90-second black-powder core  safety  fuse. 
These  are hand  thrown  devices.  Upon detonation,  the  device  propels  burning 
napalm  over  an  open  circular area  of approximately  20-30  feet  in  diameter.  The 
gel-like  petroleum clings  to  forest  fuels  and  bums  from  4 to  10 minutes.  These 
devices  require  special  training  and certification (follow  agency  policy).  Fuse 
caps are classified as "Class  C Explosives," and canisters  of napalm are classified 
as "flammable liquids." 
Aerial Ignition  Systems 
Of the  many  methods  available  for  starting  ignition,  setting  fires  from  the  air 
offers  many  benefits  over  those  requiring  ignition  from  the  ground.  Among  the 
benefits  are  (1) less  chance  of ground  personnel  being  trapped in  a fire,  (2) 
larger  areas  can  be burned  when  conditions  are best,  (3) fewer  personnel and  less 
time needed to accomplish the tasks, and (4) in many  situations,  costs  are 
There  are many factors  that  should be considered in making  a selection of an 
aerial ignition system,  including  the  size of the  area to be burned,  phase  of the 
fire,  values  at risk,  strategy,  topography,  fuel  and  site conditions,  availability of 
different aerial  ignition systems,  trained  and  qualified personnel,  carded aircraft 
and pilots,  and economic  concerns.  No one system will completely satisfy  all of 
these factors  in every instance. 
Helitorch-This device  is mounted  externally on  a helicopter.  The  pilot 
controls  placement of the burning  fuel.  This device  uses jelled gasoline,  produces 
large  amounts  of fire  in  a short period  of time,  and  will  burn  standing brush  and 
other  fuel  types  with  little  or no ground  fuels.  It ignites  fuels  with  higher fuel 
moistures  expanding the prescription window.  Use of this device  is limited to 
daylight  hours  and requires  a complex  firing  organization and  special  training 
(follow agency policy).  Jelled gasoline/diesel is classified as a "flammable 
Plastic  Sphere  Dispenser - (ping  pong  ball  machine).  This  device  is  mounted 
in the  rear  door  opening  of a helicopter.  The device  dispenses  polystyrene 
spheres  (similar to the size and composition  of ping pong  balls)  filled  with 
potassium  permanganate crystals  The machine injects the polystyrene spheres 
with ethylene glycol  and releases  the spheres  which drop  to the ground.  An 
exothermic  reaction  occurs  and the spheres ignite  within  20 to  30 seconds.  The 
device  is most  effective  in dry, light,  and open canopy  fuel.  However,  some users 
indicate  it works  well for  underburning in  canopy  fuels  as the  balls  fall  through 
the canopy  to ignite  the  ground  fuels.  It produces  a relatively low  intensity fire 
from  each  ignition  source. 
Mechanical equipment can be very  effective  in fire  suppression work  and  will 
normally  replace  the  efforts  of many  people  on the  fireline.  Cost benefits can  be 
realized  through the  use  of machines  if good  management practices are followed. 
To accomplish good management practices  one must  have  a knowledge of 
mechanical  equipment and devote  enough  time to the management of the 
equipment on  the  fire. 
The three  kinds  of mechanical equipment covered in  this  section are dozers, 
tractor/plows,  and  engines. 
Many  of  the  fireline  construction  and  safety  principles  covered  in 
Section  1  also  apply  to  the  use  of  mechanical  equipment. 
Dozers areeffectivefirefighting tools ifthey are used correctly. They are costly
to operate and require good operators, good supervision, and adequate service
andrepair. However, inexcessivelyrocky areas andin some dense timber
stands, especiallywith manylarge trees, their progress will be drastically slowed.
When they are neededto pioneerahead ofatractor/plow or crew, they are
indispensable. Inthis capacity they dotheclearing work sothat the plow orcrew
canbuild theline astheyfollow.
Dozers will come with various types ofblades and control systems. There are
twotypes ofblade control systemsused ondozers. These arecable and
hydraulic. Almostalldozers producedduring the past 30years will have the
hydraulic system. Cable systems were commonbefore that period; however,
thereare still someofthe older dozers withcable systems inuse.
Cable controlledsystems arebest usedinlight fuels for light scarificationofsoil,
for finishing fireline, and for road grading.
Hydraulic systems canexert pressure down aswell asraise theblade, thus are
best used for digging in hard ground, cutting through roots, cross ditching or
waterbarring, digging sumps and pits, anddownslopebreakingaction. The
hydraulic control is alsohelpful ifthe dozer becomeshigh centeredor stuck and
theterrain needs tobebuiltup under the tracks.
Thethree commontypes ofblades andtheir best uses infire suppression are:
1.  The straight blade. Itcanusually be angled andpush soiltoeitherside of
the dozer. This is not true with theother types. Thus, the bestuses for
straightblades are: Pioneeringand finishing fireline, cross ditching, and
road constructionandmaintenance.
2.  The "U"blade. Best used for pioneering fireline, sump digging, and earth
moving (asinroad construction).
3.  Brush blade. The best uses forbrush blades are pioneeringin brush,
clearing and piling slash, mopup work, and certainrehabilitationwork.
Table  1 discusses the  types  of dozers  by  size.  It divides  the  various  models into 
three  size  groups.  Consider the  age  and  condition of different dozers.  For 
example,  the  newer Caterpillar D-5's can  match the  performance characteristics 
of the  older D-6' s,  and  so  forth. 
Blade  Horse  Min.  Ground 
Make  Size  Weight  Width  Power  Clearance 
Large  dozers  (Type  1) 
Caterpillar  D-9H  95,000  16'  410 
Caterpillar  D-8K  69,000  15'6"  300 
Caterpillar  D-7G  52,000  15'7"  200 
International  TD-25L  69,780  13'2"  310 
Terex  82-30B  61,000  12'3"  260  18.25" 
Terex  82-20B  42,000  11'5"  205  17" 
Terex  82-30  54,000  12'3"  225  18.25" 
Komatsu  D-155A-l  76,000  13'6"  320  20" 
Komatsu  D85A-12  40,000  11'10"  180  16" 
Medium  dozers  (Type  2) 
Case  1450  30,000  10'  130  15" 
Case  1150B  25,000  125  15" 
Caterpillar  D-6D  31  ,000  13'8"  140 
International  TD-30E  47,525  11'5"  157  19" 
John Deere 
JD-750/6520  29,335  12'2"  110  14" 
John Deere 
JD-750/6525  28,985  9'7"  110  14" 
Komatsu  D65E-6  36,000  11'2"  155  16" 
Komatsu  D53A-16  25,000  12'2"  110  13" 
Light  dozers  (Type  3) 
Case  350  8,000  6'8"  39  11" 
Caterpillar  D-3  14,000  7'11  "  62 
Caterpillar  D-4  20,000  8'-10'  75 
International  TD-8E  16,617  12'5"  56  14" 
International  TD-7E  13,632  12'1 "  48  12" 
John Deere 
JD-350c/6300  10,300  7'6"  42  13" 
John Deere 
JD-450c/6405  14,230  7'6"  65  14" 
Komatsu  D45-A  18,000  10'4"  90  14" 
Komatsu  D31P-16  15,000  8'2"  63  14" 
Some conditions which  limit  dozer  use are steep  slopes,  heavy  fuels,  rock 
outcroppings, bogs  or  swamps,  and fragile  soils.  The  use  of dozers. on  side  hills 
with  soft fragile  soils can  be hazardous,  and  will increase erosion potential. 
Light dozers  (Type 3) are effective  in building  fireline  in light  fuels  on level  to 
moderate terrain.  They  perform best  in  soil  with  few  rocks,  and  in  wet  soil 
conditions,  especially when  equipped with wide  tracks.  They're maneuverable in 
close  quarters  and  generally  do less  damage  to the environment.  They  also  can be 
very  useful  in  mopup  operations. 
Medium-sized dozers  (Type 2)  are  generally  the  best  all-around  size  for  fireline 
construction as they  are  maneuverable and perform well  on  moderately  steep 
slopes.  They  will handle  the  average  fuel  and  terrain  conditions in the 
mountainous areas  and when  fitted  with  wide tracks  perform well  in  wet  soil 
Heavy  dozers  (Type  1) are  generally  too  big  for  many  fireline  construction 
situations.  They  are hard  to maneuver in close  quarters,  especially in  steep 
terrain.  They  are best  assigned as lead  dozers  to pioneer in  heavy  fuels  on  level 
to moderate terrain.  Heavy  dozers  will  have  difficulty in  wet  ground unless  fitted 
with  extra wide  tracks.  On  standard tracks  their  bulk  weight more  that  offsets 
the hold  up  surface  of the tracks,  and once  these  large  machines  are  stuck,  it is  a 
major  job to  free  them. 
As a general  guideline,  dozers  should  not be operated across  slopes  (sidehill) 
greater  than  45  percent,  uphill  on  slopes  greater than  55  percent,  or  downhill  on 
slopes  greater than  75  percent (see  Figure  1). 
Figure  I-Guideline For Maximum Percent Slope Dozer Operation 

100%  Slope 

75%  Slope  (Max.  Downhill) 

55%  Slope  (Max.  Uphill) 
/   45%  Slope  (Max.  Sidehill) 

0%  Slope 
Percent slope is  determined by  the  vertical distance  (rise)  divided by  horizontal 
distance  (run)  multiplied by  100  (see  Figure 2). 
Figure 2-Calculation of Percent (%)  Slope 
% Slope =RISE  X  100 
An easy method to determine percent  slope is with the use of a slope meter  (see 
Figure  3). 
Figure  3-Slope Meter 
.....~   ~ ~ : ~   : : ~   ~ : :   ~ : :   ~   : : : : : ~   . 
Attach  a copy  of this diagram to the board in the belt  weather kit.  
Notch  the board where  the lines  converge.  
Hang  the compass from  the notch as a plumb.  
Sight  along  the top edge  of the board parallel to the  slope.  
Note  where  the string  lies.  
Read  slope  to the nearest 5 percent.  




70 80 90 100
Clinometers or abney  levels  are instruments  that can be used  to measure  percent 
slope  (see Figure  4). 
Figure  4-Instruments to Measure  Percent Slope 
Abney Level 
To use  the clinometer hold it to your eye  and with both  eyes  open,  look 
simultaneously through  the lens and alongside  the housing.  A horizontal sighting 
line  will  appear.  Raise  or lower  the clinometer (by tilting  your  head)  to place  the 
sighting  line  at the top or bottom  of the object.  Read  the percent slope  number 
closest to the sighting line. 
Operate  the  abney level  similarly  to the clinometer,  but  rotate  the  outside  scale 
forward  or backward to  align  the bubble  inside  the  instrument rather  than  tilting 
your head.  Read  the  number  from  the outside  percent slope  scale. 
Clinometers and Topographic Abney Levels can be  used to  measure slope, height 
of objects,  and  vertical angles  (see  Figure 5). 
Figure 5-Measurements With Clinometer or  Abney Level 
For height 
measurement, choose a 
scale and  a convenient 
baseline distance. 
Standing at the baseline 
distance, sight the  tip 
of the  object and  read 
the  scale;  sight the 
bottom of the  object 
and read the scale.  Add 
the  two  scale readings 
together and  multiply 
this total reading by the 
baseline distance.  This 
is the  object's height. 
Sight upslope or 
downslope on the 
object at eye  level. 
Read directly from  the 
percent or degree scale. 
Vertical Angles 
Sight upslope or 
downslope on the 
object at eye  level. 
Read directly from the 
degree scale. 
Height  =  
(600/0 + 30%)  x  80 ft.  
Hei  ht = 72 ft.  
Table  2  provides  single  pass  line  construction rates  in  chains  per  hour for  several 
variables.  The  table  was  developed from  a series  of field  tests. 
Some  generalities  that  can  be  concluded from  Table  2 are:  1) production rates 
drop  as the  fuel  loadings  increase and  2)  slope  has  an effect on production rates, 
particularly traveling upgrade,  and  some  dozer  sizes  are  better suited for  select 
jobs than  others. 
Fire  behavior  fuel  Slope  class  1  Slope  class  2  Slope  class  3 
model  (0%-25%)  (26%-40% )  (41%-55%) 
Up  Down  Up  Down  Up  Down 
Chains  per  Hour 
Small  dozers  (Type  3) 
1,2,3  63  88  36  88  14  16 
4  22  29  12  30  3  22 
5  63  88  36  88  14  61 
6  39  59  22  62  8  42 
7  39  52  22  56  8  35 
8  63  88  36  88  14  16 
9,11,12  22  30  12  30  3  11 
Medium  dozers  (Type  2) 
1,2,3  88  118  58  112  35  73 
4  32  47  18  53  5  31 
5  88  118  58  112  35  73 
6  51  75  26  78  9  48 
7  51  75  27  78  9  48 
8  88  118  58  112  35  73 
9,11,  12  32  47  18  53  5  31 
10,  13  17  23  10  25  3  11 
Large  dozers  (Type  1) 
1,23  91  124  62  118  35  83 
4  43  60  27  62  12  40 
5  91  124  62  118  35  83 
6, 7  63  91  41  90  22  57 
8  91  124  62  118  35  83 
9,  11,  12  43  60  27  62  12  40 
10,  13  27  38  15  34  4  16 
Line location  is as important for  dozers  as for handtools,  and the  same  principles 
of width,  depth,  and location  apply.  Locate  the line  in accordance  with  the  fire 
control  strategy,  vegetation,  and terrain.  The line  should  be  located well  ahead  of 
the dozers but not  so far that the line location  would need  to be changed by the 
time the dozers  get there.  The locator  should  check  periodically with  the  spotter 
or operator of the lead  dozer  or with  the dozer  boss  to  advise  them  of what  is 
Locations  where dozers  cannot work effectively  should be avoided and  completed 
with handtools.  These  locations  would  include  areas  of large  rocks,  rock 
outcrops,  excessively steep terrain,  or other  limitations to the  use  of dozers. 
Trench  undercut lines,  and treat  all hazards  in the  same  manner  as hand  line 
construction and  mopup. 
The principles of direct,  parallel,  and indirect attack  also  apply  to  dozer  line 
construction (see pages  16-17); and, as a general  rule,  all dozed  material should 
be cast outside  the line and scattered.  In a very few instances the dozer  might  be 
used on very  small  fires  to push the burning  edge  into  the  fire  area  all the  way 
around  the  perimeter.  This  is not  a highly  recommended practice. 
Dozers  are  extremely effective  tools  for  building  firelines,  particularly in  heavy 
fuels  and brush.  They  must be followed  with handtools  to finish  the  line,  to burn 
out where  necessary,  to hold the fire within  the line,  and to combat slopovers  and 
spot  fires. 
Once the fireline  is built,  it is necessary  to begin  the  mopup  from  the  fire  edge 
toward  the  center of the  fire,  and  this  operation requires  handtools.  Often, 
engines or hose lines can be used to assist with holding  action  and mopup.  Much 
will depend  on the kind  and volume of fuels.  Dozers  can be  used  to a limited 
extent on mopup  operations. 
Often it is practical  and desirable  to build  the dozer  line  where  it  will  serve  as an 
access road for engines  and the movement of crews.  Grade  along  the line  then 
becomes  important so that four wheel  drive vehicles  can travel.  This  use  is  very 
valuable  but  should  not dictate  the location  of the fireline.  The  location for  fire 
control  purposes  must  take precedence. 
It may be  necessary  for  dozers  to clear  out  safety  areas.  These  should  be  built 
well in advance  of probable  need. 
- -
Dozer organizations will vary with the size of the fire, the kind and amount of
fuels, the topography, the practice in that locality, and the personnel available.
On a large fire with several dozers a dozer boss or dozer strike team leader will
normally supervise dozer operations (see Figure 6).
Figure 6-Dozer Organization On A Large Fire
   __ Line locator
I     Dozer strike
team leader
Dozer boss ---
---- Lead dozer

---_ Spotter
  __ swamper
Second dozer
In heavy going a spotter, swamper, line locator, and hand crew may be assigned
to assist with dozer line construction. Because of the danger from rolling rocks
and/or debris, no personnel should work directly below a dozer.
At least one person should be assigned to each dozer as a swamper. The
contractor will normally provide a swamper for contract dozers. The swamper
is to:
• Handle the winch line and choker, help change blade positions, assist with
the maintenance, and otherwise assist the operator of the dozer.
• Communicate by hand signals with the dozer operator.
• Cut away projecting branches and sticks that may jam the machine and
cause damage or endanger the operator, to remove rocks and debris from
the machine on signal from the operator, and to cut with an ax or chain
saw where necessary to move logs and tangled windfalls.
• Work as a spotter if one is not assigned or as a contact between the
operator and the spotter.
• Act as an alternate operator.
Since mechanical equipment is generally noisy and it's difficult for operators to
hear other personnel in the area, a simple but effective communications system
can be accomplished through the use of hand signals and other signals (see Figure
Figure 7-pozer Hand Signals
&wi motor twice Gwt motor one.
By gunning the dozer motor twice, the operator can signal that he cannot see the
spotter, and by gunning the motor once, he can signal that he wants the helper to
come to the dozer.
The following are good dozer line constructionprinciples:
1. Utilize anchorpoints andLeES(lookouts,communications,escape routes,
2. Allunburnedfuels shouldbecast awayfrom thefireline and scatteredto
3. Where both soilanddebris mustunavoidably bepushed totheinside,
spread and scatter this material wellback'into thebum.
4. Infuel typeswithdowntimberitmaybebest tousepower sawsahead of
thelead dozer to"buck"thematerial.
Chain sawcrews shouldbecloselysupervised,kept wellaheadofthe
dozer, andavoid doing workthedozer cando. Sawcrews are notneeded
ifthelead dozer islarge enough todothejob orifitcan dothejob
without creating excessively large piles ofdebris.
5. Snags canbequickly felledbydozers. Where snagfelling ishazardous to
dozers, thejob shouldbe donebyfelling crews. Local practiceswill vary
for differentsections ofthe country.
6. Consultwith the operator(bothoperatorcompetenceand dozer cabability)
before assigning dozer work in steepterrain andcontouring sideslopes.
7. Generally, two dozers should work togetherin pairs or tandem when
constructingfireline. They can reinforceeach otherand assist each other
ifonedozer needs help. Thelargestmachine orthe one inthe best
conditionshould serveastheleaddozer. Neithermachineshouldbe
operatedbelow theother onslopes ortoo close togetherbecauseofthe
dangerofrolling and falling material. Ifa narrow fireline is neededthe
lead dozer pioneers the lineby doing therough clearingjoband the second
dozer cleans upthe line. Ifawider fireline isneeded both dozers may be
doing asubstantial amount ofclearing. However, the seconddozerstill
cleans uptheline.
Figure 8-TandemDozers ConstructingaWide Fireline
8. The linemaybewiderinsome sections thaninothers dependingonthejob
itisintendedto do. There must be areason for extra width ofline. It may
bebecausethebrush istallandthick,becausethecanopy needs tobe
openedup, or tokeep the crew from being scorchedduringburnout.
The line shouldbewide enough tohold thefire; usually 1-1/2 times the
height of the fuel in brush and not less than one-half the height of the fuel
in timber.
Itisoften impracticaltomake itwide enough towithstandarun ofthe
fire. Enougharea must be burnedout from the line towardthe fire to
contain itandanyspotting.
9. Use acleanupcrew behindthedozerto speedup the line constructionand
to makeit secure. Thejobofthe cleanupcrew is to preparethe line for
burnoutby reducingthe kind and amountoffuel along the edgeofthe line
sothat the chancesofradiatedheat and mass transportacross the line will
be reduced. Thejobisaccomplishedby:
• Fellingsnags onbothsides ofthe line.
• Fellingleaners.
• Breakingup, tearingapart, flattening, and dispersing accumulationsof
fuel closeto the line.
• Loppingand scatteringtops and branchesand cleaningup the lower
stems ofstandingtrees by cuttingofflimbs, moss, and vines.
• Makingsure the line is continuousand free ofsurfacefuels.
Normally,three to sixpeopleare neededin acleanup crewplus a squad
boss. Theymay be part ofthe burnoutcrew ifthe cleanupjobis light.
The mainpointhere is that handtools are neededtofollow the dozersin
any type offuel to make sure the line is readytoburnoutand hold. The
cleanupcrewmuststay away from the immediatearea aroundthe dozers,
since they areconstantlybackingand maneuvering.
10. The burnoutcrew may be part ofacombinationcrew that does both
cleanupand burnout. On largerfires it will be separateand supervisedby
a squadboss or acrew boss accordingtoits size.
Ifburningout follows the dozers, it shouldnot follow soclosethat the
firing will handicapthe dozer'soperationorjeopardizethe line
constructionand cleanup.
11. Proper supervision mustbe providedfor hiredequipment. Proper
organizationand supervisionarethe keys to successfuloperationof
12. Provisionmustbe madefor servicingequipmentas soon as the equipment
movesonto the fire. Theseareexpensivemachines,and they cannotbe
operatedlong withoutservicing.
13. Dozers and tractor/plows mustbe properly equipped:
• They shouldhavecanopies ofsufficient strength towithstandrolling
over and to protectoperators from falling material.
• The dozers should be armored underneath.
• They shouldhave flInctioninglights, both front andrear when itis
• Theyshouldhaveseatbelts.
• They should have afireextinguisherand shovel.
• They should have aproperly functioning spark arrestor.
• Operators mustbe supplied with requiredpersonalprotective
equipment, including fire shelters. Itmaybe necessarytoinstructthe
operatoron the proper use ofthe fire shelter.
Plows  are pulled  by 4-wheel  drive  vehicles  and by  dozers.  For  the  purpose of 
this document,  a plow pulled  by a dozer  will be  called  a tractor/plow or  a 
tractor/plow unit.  There  are  a number  of different kinds  and  sizes,  but  the  ones 
used  with  tractors  are in  the  majority  and  generally  are  the  most  satisfactory.  In 
the southern pine flat woods,  plows outnumber  engines  because they are  so 
effective.  The medium  units  are the most numerous.  These  are pulled by the 
TD-9, HD-6,  and D-4 size class dozers.  Light units include  TD-6  and D-2  size 
class dozers.  Heavy units include TD-14 and D-6 size class dozers. 
Plows  are a principal  wildland  fire tool in the flat  woods  and coastal plains  of the 
South,  Southeast,  and Florida.  They are generally  used  in the Midwest and the 
Lake States  and the Northeast.  They are in limited  use in the Southwest.  The 
fireline  plow is best  used in fuel types that can be traversed without too  much 
interference from  standing  timber,  where  the  topography  is  more  or  less  level  to 
rolling,  and  where  the  soils  are  generally  sandy  or friable  with  a minimum of 
rock.  Rocky  soils are a deterrent  to plows.  As the slope increases,  the efficiency 
of the plow decreases. 
Since the plow is pulled by a dozer, the fuel type must allow  access  to that  size 
dozer.  Otherwise,  the plow  llnit must be  preceded by  a dozer  and/or  a saw  crew. 
Tractor/plow units  can  usually  walk  down  trees  up  to five inches  in  diameter if 
they are not too closely  spaced. 
In suitable  fuels  and soils, most tractor/plows  are able to construct line  at a 
maximum of three mph  (240 chains/hr).  The  speed  will  vary  considerably below 
the three mph  on  account  of soils,  stumps,  boggy  sections,  trees,  and  other 
Line  construction and line location  principles  are the  same for  plows  as for  any 
other method.  The depth  of plowing  should be as shallow as possible and yet 
should obtain  a clean line down to mineral  soil.  The shallow  line is equally  as 
effective  as the deeper one as long as it is clean and continuous.  The  shallow line 
puts less  drag on the tractor  so that plowing  is faster,  the line  is less  restrictive to 
wheel traffic,  and less erosion is caused on slopes.  The depth  should be  adjusted 
while the plow  is in motion  and should be frequently  checked if it is hydraulically 
operated.  Since burning  out is the usual  practice  in line  construction,  the plowed 
line should be as straight as possible.  The line  should be adjusted  as necessary to 
keep  stumps,  snags, fuel accumulations,  and other hazards  outside  the line. 
The  principles of operating a  single tractor/plow  are  much the  same as  operating 
with  teams  of two  or  more  tractor/plows.  However,  two  tractor/plows  are  the 
optimum number per team. 
Most of the  time,  a tractor/plow crew consists of two  people,  one  operating and 
the  other swamping or  firing.  A  holding  crew of one or  more people  may be 
required to  clean up,  hold the  line,  and  chase. spot  fires,  depending on  the  fuel 
type  and  conditions  (see  Figure 9).  If an  engine is  available,  these jobs are 
accomplished by  the  engine crew. 
Figure 9-Tractor/plow Crew  Organization. 
  .. ,.. 
nfN... Line 
with operator 
and swamper 
Squad boss 
Crew boss 
Squad boss 
Timing is importantin successfulplow operation (see Figure 10). Timing must
beadjusted to:
1. Rate offire spread
2. Plowing rate
3. Burnouttime and extentofburnout
4. Distancefrom the fire to:
• heavy or lighterfuels
• plantations,buildings, etc.
• natural barriers, swamps, ect.
Figure 10-TimingIs ImportantIn SuccessfulPlow Operation
.. '
.... ....
...' ...'
- -
1. Rate offire spread
2. Plowingrate
3. Burnouttime
~   4  
4. Distancefrom fire
' ;::: ~ ~  
:-  ....
..... ~  
..  ...
//JI :-...
'(I "....
~   ...
- ~         ,,'"
3 ......,.....
............. ~   Holding 
Inbrush and scrub timberorlight fuels and where stumps are readily visible, it
isbesttoplow asclosetothefire aspossible andasfast aspossible. Inheavier
fuels the best tactic is to give thefire some room andto burn out from the line.
There is ageneral guidelinein Florida: "Ifit'sworth plowing, it'sworth
buming out."
Normally, each tractor/plow should take adifferentportionof the line. This is
particularlytrue ifenoughengines and/or personnelare availableto follow up
each tractor/plow.
On more  difficult fires,  the  best  results  are usually  obtained by  working plow 
units  in  teams,  particularly if it  is difficult to  construct and  hold  the  line. 
Two  parallel plowed lines  are  made  to obtain  the  width  needed for  holding.  The 
rolled-outturf of each  line  should just touch  the  brim of the  adjacent line.  The 
outside  plow  follows  a short distance  behind the inside  plow. 
In difficult line  construction,  the  units  are  operated in  tandem  (see  Figure  11). 
The first  unit  (usually  a dozer  without  plow)  takes  out  obstructions  such  as big 
brush  and snags  and as much  surface  as time  will  allow.  The  second unit  makes  a 
clean  line.  They  must  work  as a team,  adjusting  the  work  load  between them. 
Figure  II-In Tandem Operations,  The  First Unit  (Dozer)  Clears The  Line,  And 
The  Second  Unit Plows  The  Line. 
In trees  and heavy  brush,  the heaviest dozer  takes  the  lead  to walk  down 
obstructions or push  them  to the outside.  Material that  has  no fire  in  it is  always 
pushed  to the  outside.  If the  difficulty is frequent  bogging,  the  favorite  method is 
to  send  the  smaller dozer in  the lead  to  "feel  out"  the  line.  It is  much  easier for 
the heavier unit  to  pull  the  smaller one  out of a bog  than  vice  versa.  Both should 
strive to  stay in  sight of each other  so that  they  can  immediately give  aid  to each 
If using  dozers  and plows  as described above,  only  a dozer would be  placed in  the 
lead.  There  are  some  situations  when  a dozer  is needed,  because a tractor/plow 
alone cannot do the job. 
Safetyis averybig concern inanyfirejob andcertainly inmechanicalequipment
operations. Here are some safetypractices that you should remember.
1. Keepcrewsasafedistancefromworkingmechanical equipment.
2. Never workimmediatelydownslope from mechanicalequipment.
3. Never mount ordismount whilemechanicalequipmentismoving.
4. Don'tallowriders onmechanical equipment.
5. Attract the operator'sattention before approaching mechanicalequipment.
6. Donot allow anyone torestorsleepnearheavy equipment.
7. Drop dozer blades tothe ground when equipmentisidling or stopped.
8. Usehand signalsbetween operator andcrew.
9. Limitan operator's tour ofduty to 12hours per day.
10. Ensure that personal safety gearisprovidedandused.
11. Instructthe operatoron the proper use ofafire shelterifnecessary.
12. The dozer operatorhasthefinal authority on whetherthe assigneddozer
work canbecompleted.
13. The dozer boss should inform the appropriate supervisorupon entering
andleaving theassigned workarea.
Engines can be very effective for control ofwildlandfire. Theiruses include:
•  Direct, parallel, and indirectattack.
•  Patrolling fireline.
•  Hotspotting toaidindirect attack.
•  Supplying waterandadditivesthrough hoselays.
•  Supplying water forbackpackpllmpsorotherunits.
•  Mopup operations.
•  Ground application of fire retardants.
•  Protectionof structures and improvements threatenedby wildfire.
Likeanyfirefighting unit onthe line, firefighters and equipmentmust be
properly managed tosafelyandeffectivelyaccomplishthe suppressionjob.
Situationswhereenginesprobably shouldnotbeusedinclude:
•  Fuels aretoo heavy topermit travel along the fireline.
•  Poor access to andfrom the fireline.
•  Terrainis too rugged for vehicle travel.
•  If access is poor andterrain isrestrictiveconsiderstationarypumping
•  Water supply is too far from the fire for effective operations.
•  Support units for engines arenot available.
•  Attempting tocontrol thefronts offast spreadingfires.
It is important that  good  management and  safety  practices for  engines be 
followed.  Some  of these  are listed  below. 
1.   Obey  all  traffic  regulations  en  route  to  fires.  More  serious engine 
accidents  probably occur on the  way  to the  fire  than  on  the  fireline 
2.   Mark vehicles parked on improved roads  with  flags,  flares,  and  so 
forth.  Also,  normal  traffic  should be  regulated on  these roads. 
3.   Require that  engine crews  include a driver,  hose  puller,  and  nozzle 
operator.  These are  minimum required positions for  many  agencies. 
4.   Use  trained and  experienced people on  engines,  particularly during 
the  control phase  of fire  suppression activities.  There might be 
opportunities  for  training  others  later. 
5.   Work  the  flanks  rather than  making a frontal  assault.  This  is  a 
common sense  practice for  any  fireline  unit. 
6.   Never block a  road.  Allow  room  for  traffic  to  pass. 
7.   Keep  engines  headed in the right  direction.  Back in  for  quick egress 
if necessary.  This  is  particularly important where  turning  around 
could be  difficult. 
8.   Keep  engines  on the  opposite  side of roads  from  the  oncoming fire. 
If an engine  is stalled  or abandoned,  it will  have  a better chance of 
surviving  a  flaming  front. 
9.   Plan  an  ample  water  supply  for  engines.  It  might require  some  road 
work  to  make  a water  source  more  accessible,  or  a  water tender 
might be  needed to  transport water over  long  distances. 
10.   Coordinate units  so all do not run  out  of water at the  same  time.  A 
rotation system  should  be  set up to handle  emergency needs  for 
11.   Provide adequate  supervision and  communications for  engines.  This 
is  another common sense  item  that  applies  to  all firefighting  units. 
12.   Use  buildings  or  natural  barriers  for  protection. 
13.   Do  not  park  at the  top  of draws,  chimneys,  saddles  or  natural 
14. Try to work engines together.
15. Watch forhazardous materials stored inhouses andgarages, such as
gasoline andpesticides.
16. Look for fire hydrants that have "disappeared"into overgrown
17. Checkreliabilityofhydrants.
18. Becautious around propanetanks adjacentto structures.
19. Be extremelycautious around utilities (powerlines, undergroundgas
lines, septictanks, cisterns). Care must be taken when operating
heavy equipmentandengines around structuresdue tothe presence
ofthese. Septictanks andcisterns may collapseunderthe weightof
There are three methods ofattack used on wildlandfires; 1)direct, 2) parallel,
and 3)indirect. They are coveredin Section 1- Fire SuppressionPrinciples,
pages 16and 17.
Engines areinvaluablewhen used fordirect attack, especiallyinlight fuels such
asgrass. The engineprovides thefirefighterwith the mobilityand flexibility in
fire suppressionby providing water, retardantor foam where neededon the fire.
When using engines indirect attack considertheterrain, point ofattack, escape
routes, fuel types, fire intensity, rate ofspread, and the capabilities ofthe crews
There are several tactical uses ofengines indirectattack. They are mobile,
tandem, pincer, envelopment, inside-out, and stationary.
Mobile  Attack 
When  terrain and conditions allow,  the mobile  attack  is the fastest  and  most 
effective method (see  Figure  12).  The  engine is  driven along  the  fire's  edge 
while  a nozzle operator applies  water  parallel  to the fire  and  at the  base  of the 
flame.  The  nozzle  operator should be  in full  view  of the  driver at  all  times. 
Follow-up action  will  be  taken  with  hose,  hand  tools,  or  both. 
Figure  12-Mobile Attack 
The  mobile  attack requires  an engine with  the  ability  to  make  a running attack 
(pump  and  roll).  Generally,  all  wheel  drive  engines  with  a  short wheel base  are 
better  suited for  off road  travel. 
In heavier fuels  or  on  a hotter burning fire,  two  nozzle operators  can  be  used 
with  a mobile attack.  The  first  nozzle  operator knocks  down  the  hot  spots  and  the 
second nozzle  operator totally extinguishes the  fire. 
Tandem Tactic 
Two engines  can be used in tandem with a mobile  attack  (see Figure  13).  Again 
the first engine hits the hot spots and the second engine follows  up totally 
extinguishing the fire.  Two  engines  working  together make  a safer  operation 
because one can help the other if it gets  stuck, broken  down,  etc. 
Figure  13-Tandem Engines 
Pincer Tactic 
The  pincer tactic  is direct  attack  around  a fire  in opposite  directions  by  two  or 
more  engines  (see Figure  14).  The  rear,  flanks,  or head  of  the  fire  can  be 
attacked,  but  it is  safer  to  anchor  at the  rear  of the  fire,  flank  the  fire,  and  cut  off 
the head. 
Figure  14-Pincer Tactic 
o   d ~
Envelopment Tactic 
The envelopment tactic  involves  striking  key  or critical  segments  or  structures 
around  the fire  area  at approximately the  same time.  Establishing anchor  points 
for the  different points  of attack  is required to keep  from  being  outflanked or 
overrun  by  the  fire.  Critical  areas  are attacked first  using  the  hotspotting 
technique.  The  engine  moves  towards  another  engine,  tying  lines  together.  If the 
envelopment  tactic is used, the attack must be well coordinated. 
Figure  I5-Envelopment Tactic 
- -
:ee::: -
Stationary  Attack 
A stationary  attack is the use of a simple  or progressive hose  lay  from  a parked 
engine  (see Figure  16).  Simple  and progressive  hose lays  are covered in Section 
2-Use of Water  and Additives,  pages 75 to 77.  A stationary  attack  is used 
primarily  for  inaccessible areas for engines,  but  where  a quick  hose  lay  will 
reach  the  fire. 
Figure  16-Stationary Attack 
Inside-out Tactic 
The  inside-out tactic  is  a direct  attack  on the  head  or flanks  of a fire  from  within 
the  fire  perimeter (see  Figure  17).  The  engine  can  either be  mobile  or 
stationary,  but  should  not  stand  in  any hot materials.  If the  engine is  stationary, 
wet down  the  area  under the  engine.  Watch  for  hot  rocks  and  fuel  beds.  Always 
have  a charged line  on the  engine  that  can be used  to protect the  engine.  In  light 
fuel the inside-out tactic  can be a safe way to attack  the head  of a fire  because the 
engine  and  crew  are  already  in the  burned area  where  fuels  have  been consumed. 
An engine  can  use  one  or two  nozzle  operators or  engines can  work in  tandem. 
Figure  17-Inside-Out Attack 
Engines can be used to make a parallel attack on fires burning in light fuel by
laying down a wetline and burning out (see Figure 18). The wetline can be made
from retardant, foam, or plain water.
The nozzle person uses a spray or fog nozzle to make the wetline as heavy and
wide as needed to stop the fire under the current burning conditions. The wetline
can be narrower if it is immediately burned out rather than allowing the fire to
bum up to the wetline. Wetlines made from water must immediately be burned
It is always safer to anchor the wetline and flank the fire rather than attack the
head of the fire.
Figure 18-Parallel Attack With Wetline and Bllrn Out

This method works well with engines in tandem. The first engine lays the wetline
and burns out while the second engine reinforces the wetline and extinguishes any
With indirect attack,  engines  can  be used  to reinforce  an existing barrier such  as  a 
road  or  they  can  be  used  to  support  a dozer  line  or  backfiring  operation. 
Two additional tactics that should be mentioned that could be  classified as either 
direct  or  indirect attack  are  exposure protection and  deluge. 
Exposure  protection is keeping the  fire  from  high  hazard  fuels,  high  value 
property  and  equipment,  and  public  danger  areas.  Water,  foam,  or  retardant is 
used  to  cool  or  treat  fuels  or  property  ahead  of,  or  adjacent to,  the  fire  when  fire 
fighting  resources  are  inadequate to  stop  the fire  spread. 
Deluge  is flooding  or applying  water  in large  volume  to an  area  to completely 
extinguish a fire  such as a fire  in sawdust  piles,  log decks,  or peat bogs.  An 
adequate  water  supply  is  a prerequisite for  using  this  method. 
Table  4  is  an overall  average engine  production rate  for  initial  attack. 
Table  4-Engine Production,  Initial  Attack 
Fire behavior Conditions Rates in chains per crew-hour
fuel model used in Number of persons in crew
1 2 3 4 5+
1 Short grass Grass 6 12 24 35 40
Tundra 2 8 15 24 30
2 Open timber/ All  3 7  15 21 25
grass understory
3 Tall grass All  2 5 10 14 16
4 Chaparral Chaparral 2 3 8  15 20
High pocosin
5 Brush (2 feet) All  3 6 12 16 20
6 Dormant brush/ Black 3 6 10 16 20
hardwood slash spruce
All  others 3 6 12 16 20
7  Southern rough All  2 5 12 16 20
8  Closed timber litter Conifers 3 8 15 20 24
Hardwoods 10 30 40 50 60
9  Hardwood litter Conifers 3 7  12 18 22
Hardwoods 8 25 40 50 60
10 Timber (litter and All  3 6 12 16 20
11 Light logging slash All  3  8  12 16 20
12 Medium logging All  3 5 10 16 20
13 Heavy logging slash All  2 4 8  15 20
The  objective of tactical air  operations is to  aid in  the  effective and  efficient 
protection of resources.  In  all  aspects  of fire  suppression activities,  safety must 
be  the  primary considerations when  planning strategies and  tactics. 
Aircraft are  often the  most expensive  single  cost item on  a fire.  Well managed, 
effective aircraft use  can  result in  reduced suppression costs. 
The  incident commander,  operations  section chief,  or  you,  the  tactical  supervisor, 
must  consider not  only  the  cost of using  aircraft, but also  the  cost of not  using it. 
Density Altitude 
Heat, elevation and humidity  make air less dense.  When the density  altitude 
exceeds 4,000 feet, performance usually begins  to be affected.  High  density 
altitude  reduces  both the effective  engine  horsepower and the  lift  provided by  the 
wing  or rotor  system,  thus  effectively reducing  performance.  To  what  degree 
this  affects  performance depends  on  the  aircraft.  Managers  of various  aircraft 
can determine  if  your  objectives  for  tactical  aircraft  use  can  be  met. 
Size, Configuration, And Speed 
Other factors  affect  the  capability of the  aircraft  to perform a job.  These  include 
the physical  dimensions  and configuration of the  aircraft  (how it is equipped, 
number  of seats,  etc.)  and its air speed.  These  are all factors  that  need  to be 
considered when  planning  for  tactical  aircraft  use. 
The lay  of the  land  can  limit  the  space  available  to orbit,  turnaround,  or  pull-up. 
This certainly  may limit what can be  safely done. 
Wind  affects  not only  fire  spread,  but  also air operations.  Too  much  wind  can 
shut down  air operations.  The capability to fly an aircraft in excessive wind 
conditions  varies  considerably with the weight  class  of the  aircraft  and the  degree 
of turbulence  associated  with the wind. 
Atmospheric  Conditions 
Inversions,  turbulence,  and position  of the  sun relative  to the  target  area  are  some 
examples  of atmospheric  conditions  that can affect  air operations.  Inversions  can 
hold  smoke  in valley  bottoms,  preventing  visibility  of the  flight  path.  In late 
afternoon,  unstable  conditions  can create turbulence,  especially along  ridges  and 
near converging drainages.  The brightness  makes  it hard  for  pilots  to  see  while 
turning  or flying  toward  the  sun.  Brightness  also  makes  it much  more  difficult to 
see the ground  on shadowed  sides of ridges. 
Turnaround  Times 
Turnaround time  is  a  big  factor  affecting  aircraft use.  All  air  operations  are 
limited by  the  time  it  takes  to  return to  re-load,  re-fill,  or  get  another load  of 
people or equipment.  This  is especially important toward sundown when  loss  of 
daylight and  pilot flight  and duty  limitations can  adversely impact operations. 
During  a continuing operation,  turnaround time  is  the  lag  time  between time  of 
completion of one  step  of a mission and the  time  the  same  aircraft is  ready  to 
perform the  next  step.  For  example,  it  is  the  duration of time  in  which  an  air 
tanker  or  helicopter departs  after  a  drop,  re-fills,  and  returns.  Turnaround  times 
depend on the  mission,  support facility  locations  (retardant bases,  re-fueling  sites, 
or  dip  sites),  and  the  speed  of the  aircraft.  Generally a  5 minute  turnaround  is 
considered the  limit  for  helicopter drops;  but  this  depends  on  remoteness of the 
location,  availability  of  other  aircraft,  length of intended use,  and  other factors. 
Use  of multiple helispots  with  re-load capability can  shorten turnaround for 
Flight Hazards 
Power lines,  towers  and  cables,  other  aircraft operating in  the  area,  and  lack of 
visibility because of smoke  are just a few examples of hazards.  Some  of these  can 
only  be  seen  from  the  ground.  Make  sure  the  pilot is  informed of hazards.  The 
only  way  to do this  is through positive  communication.  You  must  be  able  to talk 
with  the  aircraft to use  it  safely  and effectively.  The  presence of some  hazards 
may  preclude the  desired mission,  because they  are  too  hazardous. 
Aircraft Caused Fireline Hazards 
Aircraft also  can  create  hazards  on  the  fireline.  Air  tankers  can  produce  a pair 
of counter-rotating wake  vortices  about  one  wingspan in  diameter.  Normally 
these  dissipate within  two  minutes.  They  sink at about  300  to 400  feet  per 
minute,  so they  usually are  weak  or dissipated by  the  time  they  reach the  ground 
if the  aircraft is flying  above  1,000 feet.  Vortex velocity depends  on  the  size  of 
the  wing,  the  aircraft speed,  and  the  load  on  the  wing.  A  vortex will  feel  like  a 
wind  gust  which  lasts  from  15 to 20  seconds  normally.  This  may  be  enough to 
initiate torching and  spotting.  Helicopters in level  flight  also  can  create wake 
vortices,  but  they  are  much  weaker and  are  not  associated with  adverse fire 
behavior.  The  problems with  helicopters  are  created by  the  downwash,  the 
induced flow  of air  down  through the  rotor  blades. 
Environmental Considerations 
Environmental considerations may  affect  air operations,  such  as restricting  the 
use of retardants  or foam,  limiting  landing  areas  and  cutting  of helispots  in 
environmentally sensitive  areas. 
Agency Policy 
Individual  agencies have  specific limits on pilot flight  and duty hours,  pilot  and 
aircraft  certification,  down-loading  of  aircraft,  and  specific  safety  requirements. 
However,  the  current  trend  toward  total  interagency compatibility is  to  try  and 
reconcile  the different  agency's  policy  within  geographic  areas  and  geographic 
area mobilization guides.  As a fireline  supervisor,  these  all  should  be  a 
consideration for  tactical  aircraft  use.  Transportation of hazardous  materials  is 
one area that  is of great  significance  to you  as a fireline  supervisor. 
Thefollowingisintendedtoprovide youwith somebasic andfundamental
informationin orderto facilitate your decision touse or not use retardant
aircraft. Itisnot intendedtobe comprehensive, nor does it containtechnical
specificationsoraircraft capabilitiesandlimitations,but does give you some
commonsensequestions andsimpleguidelines. Youshould always consultand
obtainyour local agency policy on ordering or using retardant aircraft.
Thebest andmost costeffectiveuseofretardantisclearlyinitial attack. Most
firefighters will also agree the best use ofretardantis when there are ground
forces available to follow up retardantdrops.
RetardantUse Factors To Consider
1.  Values atrisk. The decisiontouse, notuse, or discontinueuse ofretardant
shouldbe basedupon the protectionof, by priorityranking, life, property
and resources.
public lands
Nexthighest priority
Priority ifhomes or
structures notthreatened
Useretardant toprotect
orpreventspread intothese
Local policy onuseof
Doesresource valuejustify
2. Availabilityofother suppressionresources. Retardantshould be used in
conjunctionwithother tactical resources. Retardantcanbe used to:
a. buy time for ground forces providingthem the opportunityto complete
b. tiein sections ofline wherelineconstructionisdifficultand slow.
c. cool offasection ofline toallow ground forces todirect attack.
d. strengthenandreinforcecontrol lines which may be too narrow to
containthe fire.
e. pretreatfuels in advance oflinebuilding.
Remember, if you don't ask for it, you probably won't get it.
3. Fire behavior. Will the retardantbe effectivewith the fire acting the way it
a. Crowning-difficulttogetenough retardantappliedtobe effective.
b. Spotting-ifspotting iswidespread, fire intensityistoo severe for
effectiveuseofretardant. Retardant canbe very effectivewhen used on
isolatedspotsor slopovers.
c. Creeping-retardantcanbeveryeffective, but other tactical assets may
bemore costeffectivetouseifthere isnothreat ofescape or sufficient
ground forces are available.
d. Torching-retardantcan be effective ifthe torching is not wide-spread.
Retardantcan preventtorching from becoming acrownfire.
e. Flame lengths-retardantisinappropriate and not effectivefor direct
attackwhenflamelengthsexceed 8feet.
4. Purpose. What willthetactical useofretardantbe?
a. Holding-toallow time for crews to arrive.
b. Delay-toslowtheadvance sothatthefire will hitbarriersoutside
burningperiod, infront ofhighways, ridges and controllines.
c. Control-canthe fire be controlledwith retardant?
d. Herding-directthe fire head.
e. Cooling-reduceintensityofthe fire socrews or equipmentcan work.
f. Spot control-keepthefire within thelines.
5. Timing. Consideringfire behavior, rate ofspread, values threatenedand
otherfactors, will the use ofretardantbe effective?
a. Can anadequate volume or amount bedeliveredtothe fire to be
• Areflight times too long toget enoughretardantto do thejob?
• Are enough aircraft available tohave acontinuousvolume
b. Ifflight times and numberofaircraftare not sufficientto be effective,
then ground attack maybetheonly alternativeunless asingle load will
provide protectionfor crews, threatened structures or improvements.
c. When isretardantneeded? Sporadic use-continuous-morning-
d. Will competitionwith other incidents limit retardantaircraft 
6. Environmentalconditions.
a. What arethe winds? Retardantgenerallyisineffectivewhen wind
b. Can the pilot seethefire? Smoke conditionsmay preventthe pilot from
seeing the target.
c. Will topography allow the airtankerto make its drop and hit the target?
d. A guidelinefor airtankerdrops is down-sun, downhill, and upwind.
Asking pilots todo otherwise couldjeopardizetheir safety.
Retardants are generally definedas eitherlong term or short term, which
describes their overall capability.
1.  Long-Term Retardant-aformulation that has the ability to reduce or
inhibitcombustionafter the water itoriginallycontainedhas
2.  Short-Term Retardant-aformulation that relies on the moisture it
contains toreduce orinhibit combustionandisineffectiveonce the
moisturehas evaporated(generally in 1to 2hours).
3.  WettingAgent-aformulation which, when added toplain waterin
properamounts, will materiallyreduce the surface tensionofthe water
andincrease penetrationand spreading capabilities. Also called
surfactant. Ineffectivewhen moisture contenthas evaporated.
4.  Foam-foamsolution which provides for adhesionto and penetrationof
fuels. Foams have the sameeffect onfuels asshort-termretardants and
wetting agents. Ineffectivewhen moisturecontenthas evaporated.
Effects OfRetardant
Retardants andfoams usedbyfire agencies assist thefirefighterinthe
suppressioneffortby doing allor some ofthe following:
1.  Fuel coating-thefuel iscoatedbytheliquidand robs the fire offuel.
2.  Fuel modification-thefuel ismodifiedby the salts or otherchemicals
inthe retardant. This modificationinhibits combustionor causesa
decrease inintensity.
3.  Fuel cooling-theambient airtemperatureisreducedby the
evaporationofthe water, as well asreducingthe temperature offuel
making it harderto ignite.
Almost all retardantbases have the capabilityofdelivering long-termretardant.
Somebases have the capabilityofloading short-term, long-termorfoam, sofind
out what your options are in your operating area.
1. Short-termretardantandfoam can be very effectivein light to
moderate burning conditions with immediateground follow-up. If
ground forces are an hour or longer away-short-termand/orfoam
will nothold.
2. Ifflame lengths are greater than 4feet-gowith long-term.
3. Short-termandfoam costs areconsiderablyless than long-term. When
youcan usethemeffectively, particularlywithhelitankers-usethem.
4. When retardants andfoams arenolonger effective,quit using them.
5. Ifflame lengths are greater than 8feet in length-findanothertarget on
the fire or shutdown the aerial applicationoperationuntil conditions
alloweffective use.
6. Table 1shows therecommendedretardantcoveragelevels for various
fuel types. Identify the coverage level retardantdrop you want when
communicatingwith the airtankerpilot, lead plane pilot, or air tactical
group supervisor. The airtankerpilot will then determine the number
ofdoors and sequencing, etc.togiveyoutherequestedcoveragelevel.
Table  I-Recommended Coverage Levels 
gai/IOO ft
1  1  Annual & perennial western grasses; tundra 

Conifer with  grass 
Short needle  closed conifer; summer hardwood 
Long  needle  conifer;  fall hardwood 

Sagebrush with  grass 
Intermediate brush  (green) 
Light slash 
4 10  Short needle  conifer (heavy,  dead  litter) 
Southern rough 
Intermediate brush  (cured);  Alaska black spruce 
Greater than 
California mixed  chaparral; high pocosin 
Medium slash 
Heavy slash 
Table  2 describes the  approximate  amount of retardant line  that  can  be 
expected using  the  various  coverage levels.  The  aircraft type,  drop 
speed,  drop  height,  type  of retardant  (waterlike vs.  thickened),  and 
gating system all  affect the  length and  quality of the  retardant line. 
Table 2-Airtanker Production Rates  in  Feet/Chains Per  Load* 
Volume  Feet (chains)  of retardant line  per  load  by  coverage level 
(gallons)  .5  1  2  3  4  6  8  10 
Evaluation of retardant effectiveness can  be  very  complicated and  subjective, 
however,  there  are  some  very  simple  and  visible indicators  to  look for. 
1.   Did  it  stop,  reduce  or  change the  rate  of spread or  intensity of the  fire? 
2.   Did  it  hit  the  target?  Are  you  providing adequate and  descriptive target 
identification to the  pilot? 
3.   Did  it  allow  you  the  opportunity to catch up?  Did  it buy  you  the  time  you 
needed?  Did  it provide you with  a tactical advantage? 
4.   Remember that  overuse of retardant is  also  inappropriate,  if one  load  will 
do,  don't order two  or  three.  If you  do  have  a continuing need to  use 
retardant,  consider an  air  tanker coordinator (most of us  call  them lead 
planes),  or  an  air  tactical  group  supervisor,  but  remember they  work for 
you.  Don't  be  timid,  when  you  feel  that  retardant  isn't  helping 
you  achieve  tactical  objectives,  terminate  its  use. 
When applying retardantor water from the air:
1. Determine thelocation oftheretardant lineusing the samecriteriaasyou
would ahand line, dozer line, or engine line.
2. Take advantageofnatural barriers and light fuels where retardantis most
3. Utilize breaks intopographysuch asridges.
4. Always pick an anchor point totie theretardantline into. It may be a
natural barrier, a road, or a segmentofline that is held.
5. Build the retardantlinejustasyouwould any otherline. Avoidsharp
6. DirectAttack-retardantdroppeddirectly adjacentto or on the fire.
a. Initial first attack-directattack across the headofasmall fire.
b. Flankattack-musthave ananchor pointtopreventoutflanking.
c. Spotfires-cool and corral until ground forces arrive.
7. Indirectattack isan action away from thefire's edge in anticipationofthe
fire's movement.
a. Pretreatmentoffuels in preparationor supportofa backfire.
b. Wideningor strengtheningofconstructedcontrollines, naturalfuel
breaks, or human-madebarriers to preventescape ofthe fire.
8. Don't expect miracles from retardant.
Directing Drops
One ofthe hardesttasks for ground forces to masteris directing aircraftto
specific targets andlocations.
1. Give general locationofthefire.
2. Finalize location with:
a. Clockdirection-Straightinfront ofthe aircraftis 12o'clock, and the
left door is9 o'clock. When giving direction, rememberthat
helicopters and air attack generallyorbit in arighthand pattern
(clockwise) andlead planes andairtankers inaleft hand pattern
b. Positionon slope-lower1/3,upper 1/3,mid slope, top ofridge, etc.
c. Aspect-directionslopeisfacing.
d. Prominentlandmarks-don'tsay"I have aredhardhat, I'mwearing a
yellow shirt, I'mwaving, I'mbythebig tree," etc. Visualizewhat the
pilot seesfrom the air. Ifon anengine, give its numberifon the roof
ofthe engine.
e. Use signal mirrors-standin drop location (when safe) for 
identificationand move away before the drop. 
f. Use aflag-takebundles ofbrightlycoloredflagging, put them on a
stick andwave back andforth toget attentionofpilots. When working
with helicoptersinclose support, youcan throw the stick and flagging
in the directionofthe target once you have radio contactwith the pilot.
3. Describetarget from your locationand explainmission. The pilot(lead
plane or air tanker) will decide drop techniqueand flight path.
4. Be sure you know aircraft intentionsbeforethe drop. Informand assure
pilot when allpersonnelare out ofthe drop area. Supervisorshave
responsibilityfor the safety ofallresources assignedtothem.
5. Give feedback tothepilot about drop accuracy andquality. Behonestand
constructive. Let pilot know ifdrop was early, late, uphill, downhill, on
target, etc. Reportlow drops immediately.
Make SlIre that you adhere totheprinciplesofsafety wheneveryou are involved
with groundforces and retardantdropping operations.
1. Clear the areaofthedrop-moveback in assoon asthe aircrafthas left the
area-takeadvantageofthe retardant.
2. Cautionyour groundforces to watch their footing when workingin the area
where the drop has been made, aswet retardantis slick.
3. Ifthe retardanthas been dropped across ahighway, slow down the traffic or
wash itoff,itmakes cars slipandslidetoo.
4. Ifworking in timberedareas,.bealert for snags, tree tops or the possibility
ofotherfalling debris knockedloose by retardant.
5. Be cautious oflow drop heights by aircraft. The resulting retardantdrop
will pick up and move rocks, dirt, brush, logs, fire tools, engines, etc. The
smallerairborne materials will travel at the drop speed ofthe retardant.
1. Determinetactics, direct orindirect, basedon fire sizeup and resources
2. Establishan anchor pointand work from it.
3. Use the properdrop height, which is approximately 150to 200 feet.
However, many factors such astopography, type ofairtankerand gating
system, wind directionandspeed, type andheightoffuel, etc. affect drop
4. Apply propercoveragelevels.
5. Drop downhillanddown-sunwhenfeasible.
6. Drop into the wind for best accuracy.
7. Maintainhonest evaluationandeffective communicationbetweenyouandthe
8. Use direct attack only when ground support isavailableorextinguishmentis
9. Plan drops sothat they canbeextendedorintersectedeffectively.
10. Monitorretardanteffectivenessandadjust its use accordingly.
The purpose  of this section is to provide  wildland  firefighting  agencies  some 
tactics  and  techniques  to  protect  structures  from  wildland  fires.  This  section  is 
not  intended  to  train  structural  firefighters  nor  preclude  agency 
policy  dealing  with  fires  in  the  wildland/urban  interface. 
Where  people,  structures  and wildlands  meet is  called the  wildland/urban 
interface.  This  interface has received attention because of the  many  disastrous 
wildfires in these  interface  areas  (e.g., Dude Fire,  Glen Allen,  Oakland  Fire, 
Black  Tiger,  Mound  House,  etc.). 
There  are  three  types  of wildland/urban interface. 
A mixed interface occurs  when  structures  are  scattered over  a  large  wildland 
area.  Isolated cabins  surrounded by  large  blocks  of industrial or  public  wildland 
would  be  a good  example of a mixed  interface.  Large  wildland fires  in  this  type 
of interface  may  endanger only  very  few  structures. 
Occluded interfaces are defined  as isolated areas of wildland within  an urban 
area.  New  York's Central  Park  and Los  Angeles'  Griffith  Park  come  to  mind  as 
examples  of occluded interfaces.  Many  structures are  at risk,  but  the  potential 
for  severe  wildland fire  behavior is  low  due  to  small  total  wildland area. 
A classic interface is found  when  many  structures,  often  on  small  lots,  border 
wildlands  on  a broad front.  The  inter-mix of vegetation  and  structures can  put 
many  structures at risk  in  what  would  otherwise be  an  average wildland fire  in 
terms  of behavior and  damage  to the  wildland resource.  This  classic interface 
area represents  the  greatest potential for  loss  of life. 
Structural fire  behavior differs  from  wildland fire  behavior in  many  ways.  Fuel 
loadings may  be  a factor  of 300  or  more  times  greater than  wildland fuel 
loadings.  Fuel  moistures  of structural fuels  are greatly  influenced by  indoor 
relative humidity,  and  timelag of treated woods  may  be  much  longer than  one 
would  expect when  used  to dealing  with  only  size-related timelags.  Radiant and 
convective heat  in  the  interior of a structure is  retained and  not  lost  to the 
atmosphere.  Oxygen supply available in  structure interiors has  a major impact 
on  structural fire  behavior.  Structure fires  may  be  oxygen-limited as  opposed to 
wildland fires  which  usually are  fuel  limited. 
Fuel  types  in  structural fires  are  not  limited to  naturally  occurring  materials. 
Synthetic fuels  present a wider range  of fire  behavior and  can  produce highly 
toxic  combustion materials,  in  addition to the  ever  present danger posed by 
carbon monoxide. 
There  are  also  risks  associated with  structural fires  that  are  not  usually present in 
wildland fires  such  as  structural collapse,  flashover,  electricity,  hazardous 
materials,  etc. 
Wildland/urbanfire sizeup considerations differ somewhatfrom wildlandfire.
Theparamountconsideration, however, isthe sameinboth, rescue/life safety.
Thisconsiderationapplies tofirefighters aswell asto structure occupants.
Operations necessary to protect life, such as search and rescue in a burning
structure, should only be undertaken by trained and experienced firefighters
equipped with full turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus. Smoke
andtoxic gases arethegreatest hazards in structural firefighting.
Thefollowing areconsiderationsfor awildland/urbanfire sizeup:
A. Structures and improvements.
1. Number, arrangement, andkinds of exposures.
Look attheplacementofimprovements and anticipatefire
2. Noteclearancearound structure(s) (defensible space).
3. Size,height,andoccupancytype.
4. Constructionfeatures: roofcoverings, wood shake or shingle
roofs (probably the greatest single hazard), wood siding,
decks, eaves (exposed vs.covered), atticvents, rain gutters
(empty or full ofdebris).
5. Safetyandrescue.
Evacuation couldinvolvebothpeople andanimals. Note safe
refuge areas (outside andinside or behindstructures).
Considerotherhazards, somehidden (septic tanks - which can
collapsewhensubjectedtoheavyweight, insecticidestorage),
andsomeobvious (powerlines, liquifiedpetroleumgas [LPG]
6. Water supplies. Notelocation, availability, and reliability.
7. Combustibles located nearstructures (wood piles, vehicles,
vegetation, etc.). Cantheyberemoved?
B. Access. Noteingress andegress andone-way or narrow roads. Can
firefighting equipmentget into the area to protect structures.
Considerthe width ofbridges andtheir load limits.
C. Fuel
1. Type offuel (grass, brush, timber, ornamentals). Note the
size and arrangementand continuityoffuels, and their
proximity to structures and improvements.
2. Age offuel. Observe the amount ofdead materialin fuel.
3. Considerstructure fuels. These can be high volumefuel that
produces large amounts ofradiatedand convectiveheat.
Wood shakeand shingle fires aredifficulttoextinguishand
may cause spotfires.
D. Weather. Observesite specific weather.
1. Wind-notewindspeedanddirection(probablythe key
elementofwildlandfire behavior). Local winds may be quite
differentfrom general winds. They will be influencedby
topography, fuels, structures, and in majorfire incidents, by
the fire itself.
2. Temperature-affectsfire behaviorasit affects your fuels
(solar heating and drying).
3. Humidity-dryerair is betterable to pickup moisture from
thefuel. The result isthat less time is requiredfor heat
4. Stable vs.unstable atmosphere-areyou experiencingmajor
wind shifts andfirewhirls? Both areindicators ofunstable
E. Topography. Observe the following and anticipatetheir effectson
fire behavior.
1. Canyons-widevs. narrow, box, or chute.
2. Ridges-saddlesandchimneys.
3. Slope-steepvs. flat terrain.
4. Physical barriers-bothnatural and artificial; roads, rivers,
green belts, fuel breaks, cliffs, or large bodies ofwater.
F. Fire behavior-observelocal fire behavior.
1. Fire location, speed, and direction. The basic determinationof
how far away itisandhow fast itismoving. This will give
you approximatelyhow much time you have beforestructures
2. Firewhirls.
3. Spotting-canyou anticipate spot fires priorto the fire front
reachingyou? This could affect your attackplan and the
safety offirefighters.
G. Resources
Are there enoughresources on hand or do you have time to order
and receive additionalresources? Considerthe following:
1. Otherentity and/or agency involvementsuch aslaw
enforcementfor road closures and evacuation. Structural fire
2. Alast minutefuel clearanceeffort. Evaluatethe terrain. Is it
suitablefor dozers, engines, or handcrews?
3. Structural protection and workforce. Considerfiring out
aroundstructures. Do you have the necessaryresources?
4. Air support(fixed wing and helicopters). They bothhave
5. Terrainfor access. It may be suitedonly for smaller, more
6. Waterneeds and sources. Watertendersmay be needed.
7. Need andavailabilityofspecialeqllipment.
Structure  triage  is  the  sorting  and  prioritizing  of structures  requiring  protection 
from  wildland  fire. 
Triage  can  be  required of anyone  at  any  time  on  a  wildland/urban fire  incident; 
from  the  incident commander doing  reconnaissance to  an  engine crew moving 
into  position. 
The  goal of triage is  to do  the  most good with  what you  have and  to  not  waste 
limited resources  or  time.  It  requires  categorization of threatened  structures  as: 
•  Needing little or  no  attention for  now. 
•  Needing protection, but savable. 
•  Indefensible. 
There are  no  absolute  answers,  but  five  factors  to  help  make  a triage decision are: 
•  Firefighter  safety 
•  The  structure itself 
•  Surrounding  fuels 
•  Fire  behavior 
•  Available resources 
Consider the  following: 
A.  Firefighter  safety 
1.  Ingress/egress routes 
•  One  way/two way 
•  Slope and  steepness of road 
•  Bridges 
2.  Power lines 
3.  Smoke/visibility 
4.  Hazardous materials 
5.  LPG  and  overhead fuel  storage 
B.  Structure construction features,  condition,  and  exposure. 
1.  Roof 
•  Combustible-wood shakes,  tar  paper, etc. 
•  Non  combustible-tile, metal,  or  fiberglass,  etc. 
•  Pitch-debris on  roof or  in  gutters 
2.  Siding 
•  Combustible-wood. 
•  Non  combustible-metal, brick,  etc. 
3.  Heat traps 
•  Open  gable 
•  Vents  without screens or  non  fire  resistant screens 
•  Overhanging decks 
4.  Windows 
5.  Size  of building 
6.  Shape of building 
7.  Position on  slope 
C.  Surrounding  fuels 
1.  Size  and  arrangement 
2.  Age 
3.  Proximity  to  structure 
4.  Loading 
5.  Types 
•  Resistant or flammable 
•  Landscape/ornamental 
•  Grass,  brush,  timber,  exotic  (palmetto,  etc.  ) 
•  Wood piles 
6. Landscaping-railroadties, woodfences
7. Defensible space,access
8. Yard accumulation
9. Flame or heat duration
10. Explosive-liquifiedpetroleumgas (LPG) tanks, diesel or gas
storage tanks
D. Fire Behavior
1. Rate ofspread and direction
2. Topographic influence
3. Weatherinfluence
4. Flame length
5. Spotting
6. Natural or other barriers
E. Availableresources
1. Kindandtypeequipmentavailable
• On site resources (water, equipment, ladders)
• Location
• When available-responsetime
2. Capabilitiesandlimitations
• Mobility
• Water/foam
• Retardant
This  section  is  intended  to  provide  some  basic  tactics  to  deal  with 
wildland  fire  in  the  wildland/urban  interface  within  the  policy  of 
your  agency.  If  your  agency  policy  does  not  include  structure 
firefighting,  the  information  in  this  section  is  not  suggesting  that  you 
enter  burning  structures  or  fight  structure  fires. 
Generally,  the  moving  fire  controls  the  action.  Mobility,  wise  water use,  and 
methods  effective in  wildland fire  control  are  commonly required.  Resources 
defending  structures  must  be  mobile,  resourceful,  and  self-reliant. 
Implementing tactics  of structural firefighting  should generally  consider structure 
triage.  That  is,  concentrate on doing  the  most  good  with  what  you  have  and  to 
not  waste  limited resources  or  time.  Concentrate on  the  savable  structures  rather 
than the hopeless. 
Initial  Actions 
Turn  the  traffic  control over  to  law  enforcement.  To  gain  access  to  threatened 
structures  will  require  sorting  out  the  traffic  problem.  Clear existing  traffic  to 
make  way  for  fire  equipment,  and  keep  it  moving. 
Come  up  with  a traffic  plan.  Identify routes  into  and  out  of the  area.  Where 
roads  are  too  narrow  to  allow  two  way  traffic  you  may  need  to  set up  a one-way 
loop.  When  possible, post  signs  or individuals to indicate the  routes  and 
directions.  Note  weight limits  or bottlenecks that  may  limit some  equipment. 
Evacuation may  be  desirable to  clear the  area  for  firefighting  operations  and 
minimize risk  to citizens.  Civilians can be asked  to leave,  but  only  law 
enforcement has  the  authority to make  them  leave.  Little  is  to be  gained by 
arguing  with  someone who  will  not leave. 
Prior  to  evacuation,  and  if time  exists,  homeowners  and  firefighters  can  make 
some  structure  preparations  to  minimize  a  structure's  receptiveness  to  ignition 
and fire  spread.  Assistance in  the  preparations  can  come  from  other sources  such 
as engine  crews,  hand  crews,  and heavy  equipment. 
1.   The  roof is  the  most  readily  and  frequently  ignited part of a 
structure exposed to  wildland fire.  Remove any  easily  ignited 
material that  is lying  on  the  roof.  Clear needles  and  leaves  off of the 
roof and  out  of the  rain  gutters. 
2.   Remove or  separate intermediate fuels  that  pose  a threat to  the 
structure,  Move  woodpiles away  from  buildings.  Remove 
combustible vegetation near  the  structure.  Remove flammable 
awnings  and other combustible materials that  attach  to buildings. 
3.   Cover openings  and  potential openings.  Any  entry of fire  or 
firebrands  into  the  structure  greatly increases  control problems  and 
the  likelihood the  structure will  be  damaged or  destroyed. 
Concentrate your  efforts  on those  openings on  the  side  of the 
structure that  are  most  exposed. 
•   Vents  and  ducts,  even  though covered with  screen,  need  to be 
covered.  Use  whatever can  be  nailed or  propped over the  hole 
that  is not  easily  ignited. 
•   Windows should  be closed with  screens  attached.  Even if 
windows  are  intact it  is  worth  covering them  to  keep them from 
being broken by  heat  or hose  streams.  Use  plywood,  sheet metal, 
or  flat  panels. 
•   Large openings  such  as  doorways  or breezeways are  hard  to 
cover.  Sheets  of plywood,  or  even  tarps  and  salvage covers  can 
be used. 
•   Evaporative coolers  can  be  ignited by  firebrands  getting into  the 
pads.  It  they  cannot be  covered,  tum on  the  water pump  and  turn 
off the  blower. 
4.   Interior  structure  preparation. 
•   Remove light  curtains and  easily ignited materials from  the 
vicinity of windows.  Drapes  made  of readily flammable  material 
should be  drawn back or taken  down. 
•   Close  non-flammable window  coverings such  as blinds,  or shades 
and  drapes. 
•   Turn  off fans,  coolers  (except water coolers),  or  anything  that 
blows  air. 
•   Turn off gas  (LPG  or  natural)  at  the  source. 
•   Leave electricity on  to  run  pumps,  provide lighting,  etc. 
• Leave aporch light and a centralinteriorlighton to provide
visibilityin dark and/orsmoky conditions.
• Do notlock doors andmake sure doors can be opened.
5. Ifthehomeownerhas aladder, place itinpositiontoprovideaccess
tothe roof. Place theladderinavisible locationso anyoneneeding
access totheroofcan seeit.
6. Connectavailablegarden hoses and test for waterpressure.
7. Vehiclesthat will remain on site shouldbe parkedin the garageor
away from flammable material near or underneaththe vehicle. Park
vehiclesheadedoutwiththekeys intheignition. Close the doors
andwindows, butdonotlock thevehicle. Make sure vehicleswill
not interferewith the movementoffire equipmentor blockthe
8. Pets and livestockthat arefree to move aroundgenerallywill
manageto avoid being burned. Ifthey are fenced or chained, they
may need tobe freed. Troublesomeor frightened pets mightneedto
be placedin the garage, residence, or otherenclosure.
Confronting The Fire At The Structure
Decidinghow to handle the fire itselfischallenging. Itrequires consideringthe
fire environment, the structure, and the situationofadjacentcrews. Considerthe
following fOlIr general situations, anddecide which one applies. It isquite
possiblethat the situationmaychangeinthe course ofthe fire.
1. Spottingzone.
You are in the spotting zone, where firebrands are the major
problem. The main fire may move through later(putting you in a
different situation), or it may neverget there.
Airborne firebrands are the biggestproblem, and the threatmay
existfor several hours. Firebrandsmay ignite new fires a mile or
more ahead ofthe main fire.
Remain mobile enough to quickly reach any point within your area
of responsibility. It may not be necessary, or desirable, to deploy
lines except to actually put out a fire. When deploying line you
should not deploy more than 250 feet of hose.
Constantly check for new ignitions; this is not a time to relax your
vigilance. Watch prime receptive fuels such as roofs and woodpiles.
Patrol as necessary, and post lookouts with communications. If a
spot fire occurs, attack it quickly. Make sure it is completely out, or
at least has a good enough control line that it cannot spread. When
deploying lines you should not deploy more than 250 feet of hose.
2. Full containment around the structure.
Full containment of the wildland fire before it gets to the structure(s)
is possible. You can stop the wildland fire short of the structure
itself (see Figure 1). Your control line will completely surround the
structure or will join adjacent control lines.
Figure I-Full Containment
Cut off the fire before it reaches the buildings, essentially at the
outer edge of the yard or where wildland fuels begin.
If you have time to wait for the fire and it's not too intense simply
put it out when it reaches the control perimeter. Use water,
handtools, or let it bum into a fuel break. Such fires might be
burning in light fuels and not be driven by wind or slope.
If you cannot wait for the main fire, or if the fire will be too intense
for direct control, you can fire out from a control line.
3. Partial containment around the structure.
Only partial containment is possible. You may be able to modify or
diminish the fire as it hits, but the fire will move past the structure
before you can establish control (see Figure 2).
Figure 2-Partial Containment
If there is not enough time or the fire intensity will not allow you to
establish complete containment, you can still attempt to reduce the
fire's intensity as it moves towards the structure.
Use  your  working lines  to knock down  the  segment of the  fire  that  is 
moving directly toward the  structure.  It  may  also  be  possible to 
light a backfire from  a short  section of control line  to  take  out  the 
most  threatening  segment of fire  front. 
When you  have  split  the  fire  front,  use  your  working lines  to  lead 
the  fire  on  around the  structure.  Essentially,  peel  the  fire  back and 
around the  building. 
After the  main  fire  passes,  put  out  any  fire  remaining  on  the  fringes. 
Quickly check the  structure for  fire.  Remember the  common 
ignition points,  and  check thoroughly. 
4.  No  containment around the  structure. 
No containment is possible.  The  wildland fire  will  blow  through 
essentially unchecked.  Your  effort will  have  to be  directed to  the 
structure  (see  Figure  3). 
Figure  3-N0 Containment 
Direct all hose  lines  onto  the  structure and  allow  the  wildland fire  to 
burn  past.  If your  position becomes undefendable  or  the  fire 
intensity threatens  your  safety,  then  retreat to  your  pre-established 
safety  zone  and re-enter the  area  when  the  fire  has  passed.  Again, 
remember the  common ignition points,  and  check thoroughly.  If the 
structure  is  on  fire  direct  your  effort to  putting  out  the  fire. 
Flammable roofs  are  frequently  ignited by  wildland fires.  When the 
fire  on the  roof is  small,  the  key  is  to  attack  the  fire  immediately.  It 
can  be  extinguished from  the  outside at this  stage.  Make  sure  the  fire 
is out  and remove  the  involved shingles  to make  certain. 
When the  fire  has  spread  across  the  roof,  the  structure is  seriously 
threatened,  especially in high  wind.  The  following  outlines a 
technique that  has  saved  some  well  involved structures  with  fire. 
•   An  exterior line  should be  directed at  the  roof fire  from  close 
range.  Working from  the  upwind  side  place the  water stream at 
an  angle  to  get  water under the  shingles.  If the  fire  is  on  the 
downwind side of the  roof,  knock it down  the  best you  can  and 
then  get  some  water  directed up  at the  edges  of the  shingles. 
•   Simultaneously take  a line  into  the  interior to  attack the  fire  in  the 
attic  or inner spaces  of the  roof if there  is  no  attic.  You  want to 
intercept and  stop the  fire  as it advances.  Estimate where  you 
think  the  leading  edge  of the fire  is.  Pull  down  the  ceiling at that 
point and  forget  looking for  the  crawl  hole,  it  usually  takes  too 
much  time. 
•   Get  a stream  of water on the  advancing fire  edge  as  quickly as 
you  can.  Since  fire  is usually running  up  the  roof slope,  you  will 
be directing the  stream  so that  it gets  somewhat in between the 
shingles.  Use water only  as needed.  Indiscriminate use  will  cause 
excessive damage. 
•   Firefighters  on  the  interior line  should be  wearing  full  protective 
turnout clothing and  breathing  apparatus. 
Water  Application 
Wise  water use  is critical to the  success  of structure defense efforts!  Effective 
application is  the  key  to conserving water. 
The timing  of water application with  respect to the passage of the  heat  wave  is 
important.  Wetting down  structures  and  roofs  before the  fire  arrives  is  usually  a 
waste  of time  and  water.  In  the face  of winds,  low  humidity,  and  fire,  the  wetted 
surfaces  will  soon  dry  out  and be  susceptible to ignition.  However,  application of 
foam  to  structures  prior to  fire  passage has  demonstrated favorable  results. 
Use  water to knock down  the  fire  in  surface  fuels  and  prevent fire  from 
spreading to  structures if at  all possible. 
During the  peak  of the  heat  and  smoke,  it is tempting to  squirt  water at the  wall 
of flame,  hoping that  it  will  somehow improve things.  But,  it  will  probable do 
little  good  and  will  waste  water. 
To escape  the intense radiant heat,  seek refuge  behind something that  blocks  it. 
Duck  behind a wall  or  stay below  the roof peak on the  sheltered side.  Then  step 
out  and  put  water where  it  counts. 
Remember to  save  enough water for  self protection. 
Summary Of WildlandlUrban Firefighting Concerns 
What  is  your  agency's policy on fighting  fires  in  the  wildland/urban interface and 
fighting  structure fires?  You  must  operate within your  agency's policy and 
Look  at all the  factors  that  may  influence your  selected method of attack.  A 
major difference from  the  usual  structural tactics  is  that  the  fire  source  will  be 
external to  the  building and  not  within.  The  structural fire  is  going  to  start  on 
the  outside of the  building. 
What  kind of access  is  available?  Is the road  or driveway accessible with  your 
equipment?  Is  the  road  blocked by  a locked gate?  Is there  space  to  park one  or 
more  units?  Can  the  trucks  be  turned or  must  you  back all  the  way  in?  Are  the 
homes  on a cul-de-sac? 
Take  a good  look  at the  forest  fuels  adjacent to  the building you  are  to protect. 
Consider the  species,  the  spacing  or  density;  are  there  slash  piles  or other flashy 
fuels  likely to become involved?  Is there  any  clearing around the  building? 
Is  there  a water source  near  the  building?  Must  water be  delivered by  a water 
tender?  How  far  is it  to  the  nearest water  opportunity?  Can  you  set  up  a portable 
Look out  for  open  garage  doors  that  allow  firebrands  to  start  an  interior fire. 
Wood piles  near the  building will  require a  lot  of water to  control if ignited. 
Heating oil  storage tanks or  bottled gas  will  present another hazard that must be 
Be  alert  for  electric power lines.  Downed poles  or  sagging  lines  are  often 
encountered in  the  wildland fire. 
How  is  the  wildland fire  spreading?  In  what direction and  how  fast?  How will 
the  wind and  other weather factors  affect the  fire's  advance?  Are  there  any 
existing  fire  breaks  or  other topographic  features  that will  influence the  fire? 
How  intense is  this  fire?  Is it  a crown fire?  Are  there any  slash piles that may 
cause spotting or hot  spots? 
What is  your position relative to  the  fire  and  its  spread? 
Dense  smoke may hamper your movements  and  may  disrupt your radio 
communications.  How  many buildings are  endangered?  Do  you  have enough 
equipment and  personnel? 
Assess  the  risk-consider all  the  factors:  access,  fire  prone property elements, 
water  source,  hazards,  fire  behavior,  forest  fuels,  weather,  and  number of 
You  must know the  capabilities of your firefighters.  Have they been trained in 
structural fire  operations?  Are  relationships  with  other agencies  clear and 
understood by  all  those involved?  Are  command and  communication channels 
Review the  structural watch out  situations on  the  next two  pages. 
Rural Metro Corp, Phoenix, Arizona
Region Three Engine Operators Workshop
April 9, 1991
1.  Structuresare wooden constructionwith shake shingle roofs.
2.  Access is poor, i.e., roads are twisting with sharp curves, narrow single
lane roads, dead end roads, inadequateturning radius atroad ends, etc.
3.  Youhave inadequatewater supplies to attack thefire.
4.  Natural fuels are within 30feet of the structures.
5.  There are strong winds and erratic fire behavioris occurring.
6.  Structuresarelocatedina"chimney"orcanyonsituations.
7.  There arepanic-strickenpublics inthe vicinity (known or suspected).
8.  Structureshave opencrawl spaces andcontainadded fuels under the
9.  Bridges in the vicinityare narrow and/or have light or unknownload
10.  There are propanetanks or elevatedfuel tanks present(most rural
situations have).
11.  There are septic tanks andleach lines (most rural situationshave).
12.  There are garages with closed, lockeddoors.
13.  The structure isburning with puffing vs. steady smoke emissions.
14.  Windows of the structure are black or smokedover.
15.  Windows of the structure arebulging.
An  adaptation  of  the  structural  firefighting  watch  out  situations  and  
the  related  six  components  of  structural  triage  as  re-evaluated  and  
made  easier  to  remember  
Jay  W.  Tischendorf  
Hotshot Crewmember  
Payson Hotshots  
Structural "Watch Out  Situations" can be remembered by  the  words-ALWAYS 
THINK  SAFE-which stand for: 
A  - Access  is  poor (i.e.,  roads  are  narrow,  twisting,  single  lane  tracks 
with  inadequate turning  radii). 
L  - Load limits  of local  bridges  are  light  or  unknown,  and  the  bridges 
themselves  are  of narrow  proportions.  
W - Winds  are  strong  and  erratic  fire  behavior is  occurring.  
A  - Area  contains garages  with  closed,  locked doors.  
Y  - You  have  an inadequate water supply  to attack the  fire.  
S  - Structure windows  are  black or  smoked over.  
T  - There  are  septic  tanks  and leach lines.  (These  are  found  in  most rural 
H  - House  or  structure is  burning with  puffing rather than  steady smoke. 
I  - Inside and/or outside construction of structures  is  wood  and  they  are 
topped with  shake  shingle  roofs.  
N  - Natural fuels  occur within  30  feet  of the  structures.  
K  - Known  or  suspected panicked publics  are in the  vicinity.  
S  - Structure windows  are bulging and  the  roof has  not  been vented. 
A  - Additional fuels  can be found  in open  crawl  spaces  beneath the 
F  - Firefighting is taking  place  in  or  near  chimney or  canyon situations. 
E  - Elevated fuel  or  propane tanks  are  present. 
Thepurpose ofthissectionistoidentifybygeographic areas oftheUnitedStates:
•  importantfuel, topographic, and fire weatherconditionsthat produce
critical fire behaviorsituations.
• appropriate safety, strategies, and tactics for fire suppression.
Thefollowing geographicareas arecovered:
•  Alaska,pages205- 218
•  Northwest andNorthern Rocky Mountains, pages 219 - 236
•  Southernand Central California, pages 237 - 256
•  GreatBasinandSouthernRockyMountains, pages 257- 282
•  Southwest,pages283- 296
•  Northeast, pages 297- 312
•  Southeast,pages313- 332
A.  Fuels. 
Boreal  forest  fuel  types  present  suppression and  management 
situations  very  different from  those  found  anywhere  in  the  lower 48 
You must be familiar  with these differences to accurately assess  the 
situations.  In  addition  to the fuel  type/fire behavior differences, 
there  are logistical problems  which  necessitate longer time  lines. 
Therefore,  a knowledge of fuels,  suppression options,  and  logistical 
considerations  is  required prior to  mobilization. 
The fuel  you  need  to be  aware  of can  be  grouped into  four  types: 
Tussock tundra,  black  spruce,  hardwoods,  and  white  spruce.  Ninety 
percent of the  problem fires  in  Alaska  occur in  the  tussock tundra or 
black spruce type.  The Hardwood type is usually not  a problem and 
will be discussed as a target  of opportunity in  making  your  decisions. 
White  spruce  is generally only  a problem during  extended drought. 
1.  Tussock Tundra 
a.  Description. 
Tussock  tundra  can best be described as a bunchgrass 
prairie  in which  all of the  space between the  bunches 
have been  filled  in with  a thick  cushion of other plants. 
Tussock tundra  is found  on extensive areas  of gently 
rolling  land  in western  Alaska,  and on  shallow  slopes  on 
many  mountain  valleys  in  the  interior.  Permafrost 
(permanently frozen  ground)  occurs  beneath,  and  a 
thick  organic  layer  is present unless  the  tundra has  been 
severely  burned fairly  recently. 
b.  Fire  Behavior in  Tussock tundra 
Tussock tundra  can be a dangerous fuel  because of its 
flashy  nature.  Fifty-five percent is  approximately  the 
relative  humidity  (RH)  at which  "moisture of extinction" 
occurs.  A  30 percent relative  humidity  with  a  moderate 
wind  leads  to a three  foot  flame  length. 
This  is, of course,  approaching  the  limit  of successful 
handtool  work  without  the  aid  of water or  retardant. 
With  15 percent  relative  humidity  and wind  speeds  of  15 
mph,  10 foot flame  lengths  can result.  Obviously, this 
condition is too hot to handle  with  conventional 
handtools.  For  the  fire  behavior analyst,  the  fire 
behavior fuel  models  fit very  nicely  and  do  not  present 
the  variable  problems  that  some fuels  do. 
Tussock  tundra  is similar to Grassland Models  1 and  3 
depending  upon the height.  If tussocks  are less than  one 
foot,  use  Fuel  Model  #1  (short  grass).  If they  are  more 
than  1 foot,  use  Fuel  Model  #3  (tall  grass).  The  terrain 
simplicity  of tussock  tundra  is a major  advantage in 
suppression  considerations.  Tussock tundra  is usually 
found  on flat  ground  or  on  the  lower  1/3 of  gentle 
The depth  of tundra  burning  is dependent upon  the 
dryness  of the fuel  and the  organic  layer  beneath. 
Great  variation  in depth  of burn  is  to be  expected 
depending  on the  time  of year  or drought condition,  and 
relative  humidity/wind conditions  at the  time  of burn. 
Normally,  once  active flame  is removed in tussock 
tundra,  it does  not  present a mopup  problem.  Cold  trail 
of the line 24 hours  after the flame  is extinguished 
usually  suffices  to assure  the perimeter is  secure. 
2.  Black  Spruce  - Feather  Moss. 
a.  Description. 
Black  spruce  stands  are widespread on  moist,  poorly 
drained  sites  and  typically  underlain with  permafrost. 
Generally,  they  are in  relatively flat  valley  bottoms,  or 
flat to gentle rolling  land,  and on cold  slopes  having  a 
northern  exposure.  These  trees  are  small.  Maximum 
heights  in mature  stands seldom exceed  30 feet, but can 
grow  to  50-60  feet  in height.  They  are  slow  growing 
and seldom exceed  8 inches  in diameter and usually  are 
much  smaller.  A tree  2 inches  in  diameter is  over  70 
years  old.  Characteristically,  mature  trees  "bunch  out" 
at the  top. 
This effect is taken advantage of by firefighters as it's
common practice to use a black spruce top (spruce
bough) to beat out the fire. Spruce often occurs in
clusters and/or clumps of trees or can form a
continuous, solid stand uninterrupted for miles.
Fires are intense in black spruce, usually killing all trees
and consuming all needles during crown fires. Black
spruce has adapted to fire primarily through its
abundant seed production in semi-serotinous cones.
Approximately 75 percent of Alaska's problem wildfires
occur in the Black Spruce - Feather Moss types. It is in
this fuel type that fire conditions and suppression
situations are very different from those of the lower 48
b. Fire Behavior in Black Spruce/Feather Moss.
Fires in Alaska black spruce are most often crown fires,
yet they are rarely running independent crown fires.
That is, the fire is carried by surface fuels, with a crown
fire often following some distance behind the fire front,
giving the impression of a full-blown running
independent, crown fire. The tendency of fires to
crown is related to the distribution of the fuels within
the stand, the flashy carrier fuel, and the dry black
spruce needles. In most black spruce stands, the carrier
fuels can carry flames three feet above the surface. The
black spruce branches (often with dead lichen covering
the lower branches) will ignite from the carrier fuel and
carry flames directly into the crown. The layering of
the lower branches provides nearly continuous fuel
from the forest floor to the tree crowns (ladder effect).
The Cladonia, or caribou moss, is an excellent indication
of fuel moisture as it crumbles when dry and is resilient
when the RH and fuel moisture is increased. A
significant change can be observed in a 20 minute period
of drying.
The key to black spruce crowning is the carrier fuel and
the low moisture content of black spruce needles. The
carrier fuel is feather moss and a lichen layer that has a
tremendous surface-to-volume ratio with immediate
responses to changes in relative humidity.
Although  feather  moss  is a live  fuel,  it responds like  a 
dead  fuel to changes  in weather conditions.  When  free 
of surface  moisture,  the response to change in RH  would 
class feather moss  as a 20 minute  timelag  fuel.  With  RH 
of 45  percent or less  it  will  usually  burn  even  if 
temperatures  are  cool. 
Exhaustive studies have concluded that black  spruce is 
always  ready  to burn  at anytime.  Even  in  a wet  summer 
the  spruce  needles  remain  dry  (70  and  80 percent live 
fuel  moisture).  Studies  explain the problem faced  by 
Alaska fire  managers  of having  a crowning  spruce  fire 
at anytime,  including the  day  after  a good,  soaking  rain. 
Besides  the  20  minute  timelag for  carrier fuels  to  dry 
and burn,  we have  the  spruce  with  branches to the 
ground  and needles  with  a live  fuel  moisture  (70 to  80 
percent)  that  is  ready  to burn.  Within minutes,  an 
individual tree  or  a cluster can  be  torching  out.  Added 
to this is  nearly  24-hours  of daylight,  which  minimizes 
the  normal  nocturnal effect.  Don't expect a fire  in  black 
spruce  to necessarily lay down  at night. 
Fuel  Model  #9,  multiplied by  a factor  of 1.21, is used 
for  the  rate-of-spread.  This  fuel  model  exhibits  one  of 
the  slowest  rates-of-spread,  and  should  help  explain the 
earlier statement that  labels  spruce  crown fires  are 
seldom  running  crown fires,  but  are  surface fires  with 
the  crown  fire  following  a few  feet  behind.  Fuel  Model 
#5  is used  for fireline  intensity.  This  fuel  model 
exhibits  one of the highest  fireline  intensities. 
These  fuel  models  pretty  well  fit the  type.  The 
homogeneous  fuel which is extensive and continuous 
presents  an  opportunity for  the  fire  behavior analyst to 
make  reliable  calculations with  a high  degree  of 
accuracy for  entire  days. 
Again,  the  black spruce  fire  is  carried by  surface fuels 
with  a crown  fire  following  a few  feet  behind the  fire 
This  is why retardant is effective in what  appears  to be  a 
timber crown  fire;  the  retardant  stops  the  surface fire  in 
the  moss/lichen layer  and  the  dependent crown fire  dies. 
Rate-of-spread is slow and predictable,  while  intensity is 
high.  It is common to  have  spotting  by  aerial  firebrands 
in  a crowning  spruce  fire.  This  can  occur regardless  of 
the  previous  weather. 
Wind  is the  crucial  factor,  with  spotting  occurring  over 
1/2 mile  ahead  of the fire  and even  up  to 2 miles.  With 
the right  conditions the  Yukon  River can  and  has  been 
jumped by  aerial  firebrands.  Spot  fires  are  often 
difficult to  detect  until  they  take  off and  start  running. 
Fire  breaks  then  are  a matter of condition.  If conditions 
are  right  for  long  range  spotting  your fire  break  must 
be burned out with  enough separation to hold.  Spotting 
distance  determines the usefulness  of firebreaks. 
In  summary,  black  spruce  will  exhibit extreme fire 
behavior when  temperatures exceed 80  OF  and  RH's  fall 
below  30 percent.  Remember,  that  in  this  fuel  type,  it is 
not uncommon to have  an extended rainy  period 
followed  by clear skies,  a little  wind,  RH  to  25 percent, 
and have  spruce  trees  crowning  out  by  mid  afternoon 
EXAMPLE:  A fire  that  is lying  down  and  appears  to be 
no problem can  be  off and  running  within a few  hours. 
This  scenario  has  ruined the  day  for  many  firefighters 
in Alaska. 
3.  Hardwoods. 
a.  Description. 
Birch  and  aspen  are the  primary hardwood species 
forming  this  Alaska  fuel  type.  Found on better drained 
sites,  they  are  generally  an indicator of better soils  and 
less  permafrost. 
b.  Fire  Behavior in  Hardwoods. 
Although this  is a major fuel  type,  it is  primarily useful 
for  the  fire  manager as  a target of opportunity  and  not  a 
problem fuel.  It  is very  similar to  a western aspen 
stand.  For  fire  behavior calculations we  use  Fuel  Model 
#9,  timber  litter  understory, 
Hardwoods normally serve as a natural barrier and
offer a firebreak in all but rare periods of extended
drought. A crowning spruce fire will normally drop to
the forest floor when encountering a stand of
There is little understory vegetation of dead fuels and
normally higher humidity and lower temperatures due
to the canopy cover. Fire in hardwoods will usually
creep along the surface doing little damage and offering
little danger to the firefighter. Difficulty may be
encountered however, when grubbing the fire out from
among the maze of roots. As more spruce appear in
those closed stands, the behavior of a fire may become
more erratic. The peat and moss in some hardwood
areas can be quite deep burning. This presents a
difficult mopup situation. Frequently, with deep
burning in peat moss and hardwood roots, a hotspot can
smolder undetected for days. Infrared for mopup is
especially effective in these conditions.
4. White Spruce.
White spruce stands often meet black spruce stands near lakes
or streams, and form a very different fuel situation than may
be burning in the black spruce. Under most usual burning
conditions, the white spruce stands are on wetter sites and fire
often does not pass through, although there is often a large
loading of down dead fuels in the white spruce stands. It
should be noted however, that under very dry conditions and
especially with steep slopes and strong winds aiding it, fire of
extreme intensity in mature white spruce stands can occur.
(Rosie Creek fire on the Bonanza Creek Experimental Forest,
and parts of the Bear Creek Fire around Farewell.) When
extended drought has occurred, white spruce stands should not
be considered a fuel break or a safe refuge for firefighters.
Also, resistance to control in such stands is extremely high,
usually dictating some form of indirect attack if at all possible.
Alaska does grow some very large trees on good sites! They
usually do not burn, but when they do, they pose a very
dangerous situation.
B. Topography.
Generally speaking, topography/terrainis not a major determinantof
fire behaviorin Alaska.
1. Fire prone areas are inflat and rolling terrain between sea
level and3,500feet elevation. Above 3,500 feet there areno
fire problemfuels. (Density altitude is not aproblemfor
aircraft operations.)
2. As arule, north facing slopes arepoorly drainedand
underlainby permafrost, resulting inblack spruce stands and
southfacing slopes arefairy well drained(especiallythe upper
3/4) resulting in moredeciduous (hardwood) stands ofbirch
3. River bottoms arecharacteristicallymeandering with stringers
oftaller white spruce that normally do not burn as a crown
fire,butoften havelarge amounts ofheavy down and dead
C. Weather.
There is no "typical" weather pattern for Alaska. A strong high
pressure systemcandominate fordays with clear skies, warm
temperatures andlow humidities. Daily thunderstormactivity
during these periods leads to multiple fire occurrenceand fire blow-
ups. Thehigh pressure systemcanbreak down rapidly and cool,
moist Arctic aircan move infollowed abruptly by areturnof high
pressure andgoodburning conditions. Weatherpredictionin Alaska
isdifficult andshouldbeusedwithcontingencyforchange.
1. Relative humidity isthe primary weatherfactor that
determines fire behavior. Below 50 percentRH, fires will
bumin most heavier fuels and at 30percent, fire behavior
becomes extreme atwarmer temperatures. RH rarely drops
below 20percentinAlaska.
2. Temperatures in summer normally range from 65 to 85 OF
with occasional readings inthe 90's. Extremeburning
conditions occur inblack spruce withtemperatures 80 OF or
higher whencoupled withRH'sbelow 30percent.
3.   Winds  are  generally  varying depending  on  local  terrain with 
no  predominant wind  flow  pattern except near  mountain 
ranges  where  glaciers  and  permanent snow  fields  on  mountains 
can  cool  air masses  causing  down-slope flows.  Afternoon and 
evening thunderstorms produce significant winds  which 
adversely  affect fire  behavior. 
4.   The  24  hour  daylight  ("midnight sun")  for  most  of June  and 
July  greatly decreases  the  nocturnal temperature  and  humidity 
differentials  enjoyed in  the  lower 48. 
A.   Strategies. 
1.   The  most  common strategy used  for  effectively containing 
large  project fires  in Alaska is indirect attack.  Mechanized 
equipment, such  as engines  and dozers,  is not readily available 
in large  quantities in Alaska and  due  to  terrain difficulties 
usually cannot be  used  effectively on  most  fire  perimeters. 
Likewise,  large  numbers  of hand  crew  personnel cannot be 
transported and  easily  supported along  fire  perimeters, 
requiring  most  perimeter to  be  covered on  foot.  These 
situations combine to make  it infeasible to keep  up  with  a 
running  fire. 
2.   Direct attack  strategy  can be  implemented when weather 
conditions reduce  fire  behavior to  a level  where black lining 
can  be  rapidly and  thoroughly  accomplished or  when  the  fire 
perimeter has  road  access. 
3.   Often  extreme fire  behavior and/or limited  suppression 
resources  may  require  a  strategy of defense of critical sites  vs. 
offensive containment of the  fire.  Both direct and  indirect 
attack  can be applied in a defense  strategy. 
B.   Tactics. 
1.   Direct Attack. 
The  most  common method of direct attack  consists of beating 
out  the  flame  front  with  a  "spruce  bough"  or  wet  gunny  sack. 
Conventional back  pack  pumps  and/or portable pumps are  used 
but less extensively.  Use of shovels  is minimal and the pulaski 
is  used  primarily to  cut  spruce  boughs or  for  mopup.  Seldom 
is a line  cut  using  a pulaski.  Cold  trailing is the  most 
reasonable method of securing the  line. 
2.  Indirect Attack. 
Burning out  from  natural  barriers  or  built  line  is  most 
common.  Smokejumpers  on initial  attack  carry  fusees  and 
often  use burnout  on  small fires  to minimize hand  line 
When  fireline  intensity  or  size of a fire  dictates  indirect attack 
methods,  a number  of options  are available.  Aerial  ignition 
from  a helicopter is usually  a valuable  time  saving  tool.  In 
addition  to normal  line  construction methods,  burnout can  be 
accomplished from: 
Fireline  explosives  built  line. 
Retardant line. 
Wet  line from  FEDCO's  or  Hoselays. 
Walk down line. 
Brush  line  (bum  and  beat). 
Common  mistakes  or problems  in indirect attack: 
Not planning  enough  time  or  moving  far  enough 
ahead  of the  fire. 
Parallel  line  to  white  spruce,  hardwoods,  or  other 
natural  barriers.  Line  through  black  spruce 
instead of hardwoods,  or  tundra 
Fuels  drying  out faster  than  anticipated. 
Tundra  not as easy  as it looks  (especially the 
difficulty  in  movement of  ground crew). 
Retardant  not always effective  (especially in 
tussock  tundra  when  it can burn  under the 
Indirect  attack  can be  a major  gamble  with 
weather.  It may take  a week  to build the  line  and 
by  then  weather  will  permit  direct  attack  on  the 
main fire  miles  away.  Weather can  also  prevent a 
clean  burnout. 
Timing  a transition to direct  attack  - better late 
than too soon. 
C.  Strategy and Tactics  for Black  Spruce. 
Complex fires  in black  spruce  - feather  moss  call  for  long  range 
planning,  use  of natural  barriers,  and  a constant alertness  to  the 
weather.  Nearly  all  lines,  constructed or  natural,  require  burning 
out  to hold.  Patrols  are necessary on a fairly  continual basis  as the 
exposed  moss  along trenched line ignites  readily  and  spot fires  can 
smolder for  several  days  before  "popping  up".  The  use  of natural 
barriers is  the  most  positive  means  of control. 
A.  Safety. 
1.  Bears. 
Black  bears  and  grizzly  bears  are  frequent  visitors  to 
incidents.  Both can be dangerous!  The best  solution to avoid 
bear  problems  is to  maintain  garbage free,  food  clean camps 
and  operations  areas.  If bears  become a recurring  problem, 
and  therefore,  a hazard,  weapons  and  licensed hunters  are 
available  upon  order. 
2.  Drinking  Water. 
Streams  and creeks  in Alaska are infected with  giardia,  and 
therefore,  are  not  suitable  for  use  as  drinking  water.  There 
are  several  portable water  filtration  systems  available for 
order,  but  if one of those  systems  cannot be  obtained; then 
drinking  water  must be hauled to the incident.  This  may 
involve costly  and  scarce  aircraft  resources,  but  it  must  be 
3.  Fire  Shelters. 
In black spruce  and tundra  it is nearly  impossible to cut  a 
sufficient clearing  through the  vegetative ground cover to 
mineral  soil  for  safe,  effective deployment of a fire  shelter. 
Escape  routes  and safety  zones,  often  found  in the  form  of 
shallow  lakes  and ponds,  are a must. 
4.  Fatigue. 
Mobility  in Alaska  terrain  is often  overestimated by  the 
inexperienced observer.  What  appears  to be  a refreshing 
green meadow  when viewed  from  the  air, is usually  an  ankle, 
twisting,  knee  wrenching,  muscle  torturing  obstacle course  of 
tussock wetland  covered  with ankle to knee  deep  water. 
Working  and foot  travel" in  this  type  of terrain  is  difficult, 
slow, fatiguing  and often hazardous. 
5.  Camp Supply. 
The  supply  of camps  is  primarily by  air  transportation,  and 
therefore,  vulnerable to  adverse  weather  and  smoke 
conditions.  Camps  often go for  several  days  without the 
availability  of re-supply.  A minimum supply  level  of three 
days of food and water should be maintained at all camps  not 
accessible  by road or boat.  The minimum level  needs  to be 
confirmed,  and  if  necessary  restocked anytime  weather or  fire 
behavior forecasts  indicate  limited  air operations. 
B.  Functional  Considerations. 
1.  24-Hour  Daylight. 
Remember,  24-hour daylight results  in  little  nocturnal  fire 
behavior relief;  but,  on the  other  side of the  coin,  it does  allow 
round-the-clock operations  (including  air  operations)  with 
little  concern  for  darkness  limits. 
2.  Retardant Use. 
The philosophy  in Alaska  is to make  a major  retardant 
commitment on initial  attack.  Due to long hauls  and the 
resulting  high  cost, heavy  air tankers  are  seldom  committed to 
a  single  project  fire,  but  are kept  working  new  fires.  You 
may  be  able  to arrange  through  logistics  for  a tanker to  secure 
a flank  or  burn  out  from  retardant line.  A  helicopter  and 
water bucket  may be cost effective. 
3.   Native  Crews. 
The  primary  sources  of Type  2 crews  in  Alaska are 
Emergency  Fire  Fighter  (EFF)  crews  from  rural  native 
communities and villages.  Village  crews  are trained to 
national  standards  with  a crew  leader  from  the  village.  Crew 
size is  16 due to limitations  of transportation by  Twin  Otter 
4.   Remote Camps. 
Remote  camps  are  difficult for  many  lower 48  firefighters  to 
adapt  to, but  they  are a must  in order  to maximize line 
production without  wasted  time  moving  crews  by  helicopter. 
Logistical support  demands  multiple  camps  on  a large  fire. 
Feeding  and camp  systems  are designed  for  camp  support. 
5.   Logistics. 
a.   A  72-hour lead  time  is  required on  resource  orders 
after  the  first  48-hours. 
b.   Problems  due to distance  from  headquarters  supply 
c.   Food  rations  and fresh  food  boxes  with  no  caterers or 
camp kitchens 
d.   There  is limited  availability of helicopters. 
e.   Radio communications  - few telephones 
f.   Showers  are normally  not  available. 
6.   Aircraft  Operations. 
Probably  no place  is  more  dependent upon  aircraft than 
Alaska.  Some considerations: 
a.   24-hour daylight provides  round-the-clock  air 
operations.  Double  crew  helicopters. 
b.   After  initial  attack,  most  aviation  work  is logistical,  not 
tactical  (little  bucket  work,  etc.) 
c.   Density  altitude is usually  not a factor  (most operations 
are  below  2,500'  M.S.L.). 
d.   Distances  are great! 
e.   Supplying jet fuel for helicopters is  a significant 
problem.  Due  to  the  remote  nature  of Alaska all 
helicopter contracts  stipulate fuel  to be  provided by  the 
There  are  no chase  trucks.  Fuel  can  be  parachute 
dropped  in 500 gallon  rollagons and then  sling  loaded 
by  helicopter to a fueling  area.  This  is  a significant 
workload and  requires  planning. 
f.   There  is  a short  supply  of  available helicopters. 
g.   For  remote  fires  and  camps  paracargo is  significantly 
less expensive  and time consuming than helicopter 
transport from  an  airstrip  30-50  miles  away.  All 
supplies  can be delivered by  the  AFS  paracargo unit 
which  is  the  largest non-military  paracargo operation in 
the  world.  Consider drop  zones  removed from  people 
areas  and  sling  supplies  from  drop  zones.  Do  not  fail  to 
allow  for  the  workload of cargo  and  parachllte  retrieval. 
h.   Allow  for  aircrew  fatigue  factor  in  a  "bush" 
1.   The  air  tactical  group  supervisor dispatched with 
airtankers  is  also  the  lead  or  airtanker coordinator. 
J·   Helpful Hints: 
(1)   Order  an  Alaska  air  support group  supervisor,  at 
least  for  the  first  72  hours. 
(2)   Order  a fueling  specialist (this  is  a red-carded AK 
(3)   Zone  air  service  managers  are  an  important 
resource,  especially  for  lower-48  teams. 
(4)   Don't  fall  behind the  fueling  power curve!! 
C.   Environmental Considerations. 
1.   Environmental  Area. 
Alaska  is  a very  high  visibility area  for  all  the  traditional 
environmental concerns  and  confrontations.  Rarely  are  fire 
operations  exempt  from  close  environmental  scrutiny.  You 
are  not  "out of  sight,  out  of  mind"! 
2. DozerLines.
Problemscausedby dozerlines on permafrosthave essentially
eliminatedtheiruse in eitherremote or permafrost areas.
Fire managers must have the agencyadministrator's approval
beforeuse. Whendozers are used, specialprocedurescan
avoidmany problems which have createdenvironmental
concernsin the past. Oftenfire perimeteris inaccessibleto
Incidentmanagementteams and firefighters arrivingin Alaskamustadapt
to many changesbesidesthe mosquitopopulation. Theywill probablyfind:
A large fire size (25,000+ acres) with no natural barriers for 
many miles. 
Indirectattackwith manymiles to a naturalbarrier. 
Poorweather information. 
Extremefire behaviorin seeminglymildweatherconditions. 
Manyunfamiliarlogistic problems. 
Difficultcommunicationto outsideworld. 
Highlyvariableburningconditionswith minimumtimelagfor 
The mostfrequentmanagementproblemfacing incidentmanagementteams
and firefighters is developing strategyto protectresources from a large
fire that is still five or more miles away. Strategicdecisionsare
complicatedby factors ofinaccessibility,limitedforce availability, unique
logisticalconcerns, and unpredictableweather.
The Northwest area includes the Coast  and Cascade  Mountain Ranges  of 
Western Washington and  Oregon,  and Del  Norte  and Humboldt counties of 
Northern  California. 
A.  Topography. 
Water,  volcanic,  and glacial  events  in this  area  have  created a great 
variety  of land  forms  ranging  from  coastal dunes  to  rolling hills  and 
steep, highly dissected hillsides. 
The major  geological features  are the Coast  and Cascade Mountain 
Ranges.  The Coast Range includes lower  elevation mountains close 
to the coastline.  The Cascade  Range  runs  parallel to the Pacific 
coastline about  100 miles inland. 
Other  important land  features  are the  Willamette Valley,  Puget 
Trough and  the  Columbia Gorge  which  is a water gap  through the 
Cascade Range.  One active volcano, Mount  St. Helens,  is located on 
the  Gifford Pinchot National  Forest. 
Unstable,  or potentially unstable  soils  are extensive on all forested 
lands west of the Cascades. 
Elevations  range  from  sea level  to  12,000 feet. 
B.  Climate. 
Because of the maritime  influence,  coastal areas  are comparatively 
warm  throughout the  winter.  Rainfall is mostly  concentrated in  the 
winter months.  SLImmer  rainfall  is  usually  very  light. 
Annual  rainfall varies  from  60 to  150 inches  along  the  coast.  The 
valley  systems to the east of the Coast  Ranges receive  30 to 50 inches 
in Washington and  Oregon,  and  15 to  20 inches  in  northern 
The  combination of high  rainfall  and  moderate temperatures  results 
in  a buildup  of extremely heavy  fuel  volumes.  The  maritime 
influence,  particularly along  the immediate coast,  usually holds  the 
fire  danger  to moderate levels  during  most  seasons. 
However, some summers are very dry and warm with highfire
danger. Duringthese periods, fires are characterizedby high
intensities, firewhirls, and long-distancespotting.
The fire seasonusuallyruns from June through September.
Lightningfires increasein numberand severityfrom the coast
C. Fire Weather.
In northernCaliforniaand in westernOregonand Washington,
strong dry north to east winds may produceextremefire dangerin
late summerand early fall. Two majorweatherpatterns produce
this critical fire weather.
1. One isacold front passagefollowedby aPacifichigh pressure
system extendinginlandover the coast. The northeasterly
winds blowingdownslopeproduceawarmingand drying
foehn wind effect.
2. The second occurs when higherpressuredevelopseast ofthe
Cascadesatthetime lowerpressurelies along the coast. The
resultingdry easterlywinds will cause high fire dangerwest
ofthe Cascades. Northeastwind notonly keeps the marineair
offshore, but also results in adiabaticwarmingas the air flows
from higherelevationsdown to sealevel.
CriticalFire Weather- East Wind.
East wind in fire controlmeans an exceptionallydry windfrom an
easterlyquadrantthat may blow continuouslyfor 24 to 48 hours or
longer. East wind often reaches maximumstrengthduring nightand
early morninghours. Surfacewind of60 mph is not uncommon. It
is accompaniedbyrelativehumiditiesthat remainextremelylow
aroundthe clockwith reliefonly atnight in some ofthe deeper
East wind frequencies over northwestOregonand southwest
Washingtonvary by month, and the patternofmonthlyvariation
differs with elevation. Septemberbears the greatestimpactof
easterlywinds asthey affect wildlandfire control.
D.  Major  Fuel  Types  and  Fire  Behavior. 
1.  Douglas-fir/Hardwood 
Natural  fuel loading  3 to 33 tons/acre 
Average  duff depth 2:  inches 
Spread  rate  2 to  10 chainslhour 
Flame  length  2 to 7 feet 
Resistance  to suppression 2 chains/person hour 
2.  Douglas-fir/Hemlock 
Natural fuel  loading  14 to 330 tons/acre 
Average duff depth 1: inches 
Spread  rate  1 to  17 chainslhour 
Flame  length  1 to  13 feet 
Resistance  to suppression 1 chain/person hour 
3.  Subalpine  Fir 
Natural  fuel loading  3 to 36 tons/acre 
Average duff depth fi inches 
Spread  rate  1 to 6 chainslhour 
Flame  length  1 to 6 feet 
Resistance  to suppression  1.5 chains/person hour 
4.  Mixed  Conifer 
Natural  fuel  loading  7 to 56 tons/acre 
Average duff depth 2 inches 
Spread  rate  1 to 7  chainslhour 
Flame length  2 to 7 feet 
Resistance  to suppression  1.5 chains/person hour 
5.  Spruce-Cedar 
6.  Oak-Madrone 
7.  Activity Fuels 
Douglas-fir/Hardwood - Clear-cut 50 to 250  tons/acre 
Douglas-fir/Hemlock - Partial  cut  10 to  100 tons/acre 
Douglas-fir/Hemlock  - Precommercial  thinning  1 to  10 
E. Strategy and Tactics.
Direct attack is used on most small fires and spot fires that are a
result of a large fire caused by east wind conditions. Fires
influenced by the east winds have numerous spots and a fingered fire
Parallel attack is the method most commonly used on medium and
large size fires. The average wildland fire bums intensely because
fuel types and dense smoke prohibit direct attack. The key to success
is anchor points and a well timed burnout.
Indirect attack is not commonly used unless needed to stop the spread
of crown fire.
1. Tactical Considerations.
Dozers. In heavy fuels, such as in the Douglas-fir type or in
lodgepole, larger bulldozers are particularly effective. Very
little advanced clearing is necessary except bucking large logs.
It is sometimes advantageous to work two heavy units in
tandem so the forward movement is continuous. The first
dozer pushes over standing material and the second pushes the
debris aside and builds a wide fireline to mineral soil.
Snag Falling. In heavy snag areas, especially in Douglas-fir, a
special safety problem is encountered. Many of these snags
contain rotten wood and are prone to shedding bark in long
sheets, with tops and limbs breaking off. These hazards are
compounded when the snag is burning. As a result, local
professional fallers should be hired and assigned a local falling
boss who knows the local snag policy. Snags are a sensitive
issue in the northwest. Most land management agencies have a
protection policy.
Helitorch. Adequate planning and timing are critical to
success. The helitorch may not be effective in old-growth
stands due to a closed canopy in the timber.
Water. It is plentiful and commonly used. Engines, water
tenders, hose lays with accessories are used throughout the
area. All agencies have water handling specialists that can
assist in the installation of progressive hose lays in the most
adverse terrain. Heavy fuels in this smoke sensitive area
require anaggressive mopup policy built on the ability to
move waterregardless ofthe terrain. Firefighters and
incident management teamsshouldassessthewaterhandling
needs early andplace abalancedorder for equipmentand
Air Operations. Airtanker drops are valuablein slash
models, young plantationsand for protectinghigh resource
values. Old-growthcanopies break up the drop patterns,
usually making themineffective.
Light helicopters areuseful for scouting, air tacticalsafety
lookouts andlogistic operations. Becauseofthedensity
altitude, andheavy fuels, water bucketloads onlight
helicopters are generallynot effective.
Large andmedium sizehelicopterswith water bucketsare
effective inthevarious fuel types providedthere isless than a
5minute turnaroundtime from awatersource. Thesebucket
operationscan be supportedwith fold-a-tanks for shorter
turnaroundtimes, thus reducing flight costs.
Manyhelicoptercompanies havebuckets setuptoutilize foam.
Foam is veryeffectiveinlight tomoderatefuels with anopen
Considerrappellers as anoption for initial attackand/or
constructionofremote helispots. Keep inmind, the host unit
may need toretain rappellers for initialattack.
Consideruse ofcamps rather than daily movementofalarge
number ofcrews via helicopters.
2. SafetyConcerns.
a. Snags andlarge trees - useprofessionalfallers.
b. Heavyfuels- createdensesmoke.
c. Cablelogging - cables acrosscanyons.
d. Blowdownfrom east winds - feet never touch the
ground, rolling logs.
e. Giardialamblia- "BeaverFever," water-borne parasite.
f. Reburn after agroundfire goes through stand.
g.   Usually  no night operation period  on the  Olympic 
Mountains because of 60 percent plus  slopes, snags and 
heavy fuels. 
h.   Fuels  and terrain  make  LCES  difficult to  implement. 
1.   Hypothermia - high  elevations  and rain. 
J·   Logging  trucks  on  single-lane,  full  bench roads. 
k.   Power  lines  crisscross  major  drainages. 
The  Northern  Rocky  Mountain  area includes: 
•   Eastern Washington and  Oregon,  and  Northern California. 
•   Idaho  (area  north  of line  from  Boise  to  Yellowstone National Park), 
Montana,  North and South Dakota 
A.   Eastern Washington  and  Oregon  and  Northern  California. 
1.   Topography and Climate 
In  eastern  Washington  and Oregon  and  northern California, 
elements  of the continental  Rocky Mountain forests  meld  with 
some of those  from coastal  areas.  In addition,  forest  species 
mix with species steppe and shrub-steppe  communities.  The 
area is typical  ponderosa pine forests.  The  area  includes the 
Klamath  Mountains  in  northern  California which  are 
characterized by  rugged,  deep  dissected terrain  and  knife-like 
ridges.  The Blue Mountains  of northeast Oregon  and  southeast 
Washington have  variable  relief,  ranging  from  moderate  to 
steep with Hells Canyon  comprising  the eastern  boundary of 
the  province. 
Central  Oregon  and northeastern California have  high  lava 
plains  characterized by  young  lava  flows  of moderate relief, 
interrupted by  scattered  cinder  cones  and lava  buttes.  The 
surface  layer  of pumice  varies  from  a few  inches  to  20 feet 
deep  in places,  and was deposited by  air currents  during  the 
last  major  volcanic  eruptions.  This  is a land  where  rocks 
float,  wood  sinks and soil bums. 
The  vegetation  of northern  California consists  of grass  in the 
lowlands,  brush  at intermediate levels,  and extensive 
coniferous  stands in the higher  mountains. 
The annual precipitationisgenerallylight, around 10to 20
inches atlower elevations. Precipitationinthe mountains
ranges upto60 inches ormore locally. Summersare usually
rainless with persistentdroughts commonin southernmost
sections. Widespreadsummerthunderstormswith little
precipitationreaching the ground, particularlyin the
mountains ofthe northern half, occasionallyresultin several
hundredfires within atwo or three day period.
Thefire seasonusually startsinJune and lasts through
2. Fire Weather.
Several weatherpatterns produce high fire danger.
a. Oneisthecoldfront passage followedby northeast
winds,thesameaswasdescribedabove forthecoastal
region farther north.
b. Foehn winds arecreatedby the airflow aroundahigh
pressure system in mountainous areas. The airflow
spillsover themountainrange and downhillat a
phenomenalrateofspeed. This causes fuels to dry out.
Asthe temperatureincreases, wind speed may reach50
to70 mph.
In Oregon, afoehn wind is referredto as aneast wind.
In northernCaliforniait is anorth wind and in central
Californiaitisknown asaMono. In southern
Californiathefoehn wind isthefamous SantaAna.
Many ofthelargest, most damagingand most costly
fires inOregon, Washington, and Californiahave been
c. Athird patternoccurs when aridge or closedhigh
pressure system aloft persistsover the westernportion
oftheUnited States. Atthe surface this pattern
produces very high temperatures, low humidities, and
airmass instability.
Never assume general principles are absolute; on the Fremont
NFinLake County, Oregon, the SummersLakeIWinters Rim
areahas reverse diurnal winds. This rim on the Westside of
during the day.
3. Forest Fuels andFire BehaviorofEastern Washington and
Oregon, and Northern California.
Followingare the major natural fuel types. The fire behavior
descriptions listed donot reflect the erratic fire behaviorthat
mayoccur asaresult ofmultiple years ofdroughtand dying
a. Lodgepole Pine.
Natural fuelloading 3to35tons/acre 
Average duffdepth0.6 inches (OR,WA,CA) 
4.5inches (N.Rockies)
Spread rate 1to 12chainslhour
Flame length 1to 10feet
b. PonderosaPine
Natural fuel loading 1to48 tons/acre
Average duffdepth 1.5inches
Spread rate 3to 10chainslhour
(Needle drape bitterbrush40to50chains/hour)
Flame length 2to6feet
Resistancetosuppression2 chains/personhour
c. ActivityFuels
Lodgepole pineclear cut 16to40 tons/acre
Lodgepole pinepartial cut 3to35tons/acre
Ponderosa pineclear cut 22to46 tons/acre
Ponderosapine partial cut 3to29tons/acre
Ponderosapine precommercialthinning 7to28
d. BrushFields
Natural fuelloading 5to37tons/acre
Averageduffdepth 20inches
Spread rate7to 13chainslhour
Flame length 5to7feet
Generally not afire problem. Brush fields are aresult
of old bums.
e. Mixed Conifer - Pine
Natural fuel loading 2to31tons/acre
Averageduffdepth 1.5inches
Spreadrate 1to 13chainslhour
Flamelength 1to7feet
Resistance tosuppression 1.5chains/personhour
B. Idaho (areaNorthofalinefrom Boise toYellowstone National
Park), Montana, North andSouth Dakota
1. Topography ofIdaho.
Idaho - Includes portions offour major physiographic areas,
theNorthernRockyMountains; theMiddle Rocky Mountains,
BasinandRange, andtheColumbiaPlateau. Ourarea of
concernistheNorthernRockyMountains thatoccupy almost
halfofthe state's arealying mostly north ofaline from Boise
to Yellowstone National Park. Within this area are some of
themostinaccessiblemountainsintheUnited States. The
Continental Divideistheboundary linebetweenIdaho and
Montana from Yellowstone National Park northwesterlyto
LostTrail Pass. Fuelsareheavier onthe west side ofthe
Continental Divide. Elevations range from 720 feet to 12,655
feet. Twomajordrainages, the Salmon River and the Snake
River,bothexceptionallydeepcanyons, flow through this
region. Both ofthecanyons exhibithazardousfire
andinaccessibilityandalocalfirebehavioranalyst should be
TheSnakeRiverinHellsCanyon istheborder between
Oregon andIdaho. Elevation varies between550feet and
7,900feetwithheavyfuelsontheIdaho sideandlight, flashy
fuelsontheOregon side. Most oftheareaiswildernessinside
theHellsCanyonNationalRecreation Area.
2. TopographyofMontana.
Montana- Topographically, the stateisdivided into two
regions: eastandwest. Theeastern portion iscomposedof
rolling hills interspersedwith low mountains, deep gorges, and
unusual rockformations. These little pockets ofmountains
producedownslope windsallnight,especiallyatthemouth of
thecanyons. Firesbumrapidly into the wind. West winds
come off the east slope of the Rockies and blow constantly.
Fuels dry out quickly in June. Aspect can be used to your
advantage when planning control tactics. Because of the
extreme breadth of the state, 560 miles, it can be light in
western Montana and dark in eastern Montana.
Western Montana is heavily forested. The mountains consist
mostly of north-south ranges and are separated by broad, deep
valleys and basins. All of the mountains were glaciated.
Elevations in the state range from 1,820 feet to 12,799 feet.
The Continental Divide runs north and south through the
western section.
3. Climate of Idaho and Montana.
Winter temperatures are quite low, and summer temperatures
are moderate..
Annual precipitation ranges from 10 to 20 inches in the valleys
to 40 to 60 inches locally in the mountains. Most of the
precipitation falls in the winter and spring in the southern
portion of this area, while in the northern portion it is fairly
well distributed throughout the year. Winter precipitation is
in the form of snow. In the southern portion there often is
widespread rainfall until June, followed by generally light
precipitation during the summer.
4. Fire Weather of Montana and Idaho.
There is a gradual drying out of forest fuels during July and
August with frequent thunderstorms producing lightning and
starting fires. Extremely low humidities can result from large
scale subsidence of air from very high levels in the
Occasional chinook winds on the east slope of the Rockies
produce moderate temperatures and are effective in bringing
subsiding air to the surface, which usually occurs in winter.
The fire season usually extends from June or July through
September. Catastrophic fire seasons usually begin with long
term drought conditions for months before the outbreak itself.
This is an area of extreme weather conditions, especially east
of the Continental Divide. Eastern Montana has an early fire
season until greenup. The winds blow every day, 15 to 30
mph, until sundown.
There is agradual drying Ollt offorest fuels during July and
August with frequent thunderstorms which producelightning
and start fires.
5. Major Natural Fuel Types and Fire Behavior- Idaho and
The overall fire potential ratings ofnil to extreme are for an
"average bad" fire weather situationdefinedas 80to 90 degree
F temperature (27to 32degree C), 15to 20 percentrelative
humidity, 10to 15mi/h windspeed (16to 24kmlh), and 4
weeks since asignificantrain (0.10 inch {0.25em} or
Overall Fire Potential
Nil-firewill not sustain itself.
Low-firecanbeeasily controlledby several
firefighters with handtools.
Medium-aggressiveinitial attack required(6to 10
persons) for successful control.
High-aggressivecrew-sizeinitial attack (25persons)
with substantialreinforcementrequiredfor successful
control; 10percentchance that initial controlwill fail.
Extreme-90percentchance that initialcontrolaction
will fail. (Usually atwo week periodin anormalyear).
a. InteriorPonderosa Pine
Natural fuel loading 1to 11tons/acre
Average duffdepth 0.4to 1.7inches
Overall fire potentiallow to
b. PonderosaPine-Larch-  fir
Natural fuel loading 2.5to 38tons/acre
Average duffdepth 1.0to 1.9inches
Overall fire potentiallow to medium
c. Larch-Douglas-fir
Natural fuel loading 1.4to74 tons/acre
Average duffdepth 0.5to4.6 inches
Overall fire potentiallow to
d. LodgepolePine
Naturalfuel loading3.5 to 35 tons/acre
Averageduffdepth0.7 to 2.8 inches
Overall fire potentiallow to medium
e. Engelmann Spruce-SubalpineFir(The overallfire
potentialrating does notillustrate the erraticfire
behaviorcausedby the changein fuel profilesas aresult
ofthe mountainpinebeetleandsprucebudworm).
Naturalfuel loading 1.3 to 77 tons/acre
Average'duffdepth 1.0to 5.0 inches
Overallfire potentiallowto high
f. Grand Fir-Larch-Douglas-fir
Naturalfuel loading 16to 38 tons/acre
Averageduffdepth2to 4 inches
Overallfire potentiallowto high
g. WesternHemlock-WesternRedCedar(Old-growth
standshavea highpercentofcullmaterial).
Naturalfuel loading9 to 58 tons/acre
Averageduffdepth2to 5 inches
Overallfire potentiallowto medium
h. Interior Douglas-fir
Naturalfuel loading2.5 to 53 tons/acre
Averageduffdepth0.3 to 3.0 inches
Overallfire potentiallowto medium
6. StrategyandTactics.
a. MethodsofAttack.
Directattack (one foot in the black)is the preferred
strategy. Coldtrail whenpossibleto avoidreburns
escaping. Directattackreinforcedby a hoselay with
lateralsevery200feetis veryeffectivein mostfuel
types. Nightworkis veryeffective.
A guidelineto rememberconcerningeasternMontana
andthe Dakotasis thatsagebrushcannotbe burnedout
whenthe relativehumidityis over30 percent.
Whendirectattackis notpossible,parallelattackis
usuallysuccessful. Positioncontrollines asclose tothe
fire's edge aspossible. Fuels shouldbe burnedout as
line progressesor as quicklyas favorable conditions
Indirectattackis usedwhenerratic, severe, or extreme
fire behavioroccurs and displays one or moreofthe
following conditions.
- Presence offire whirls.
- Prolific crowning and/or spotting.
- Very high to extremerates ofspread.
- Atall, well-developedconvectioncolumn.
b. Principles ofBurnout/Backfiring
Aggressivedirectattackand burningout as necessaryis
preferred. Conducting backfiring operations requires
greatcare in timing. All the conditionsmustbe right
and allsafety precautionsmust be inplace.
Exceptin ponderosapine/grassfuel types, constructing
fireline in timberfuels several hundredfeet or farther
from the mainfire and burning out or backfiring,
generallyresultsin spottybumout/backfireand escaped
Indirectattack andbackfiringshouldbe the last strategy
used andmust beapprovedin the EscapedFire Situation
c. Tactical Considerations. Buildingfireline from the top
downhill. This is ahazardouspracticewhendone in fast
burningfuels and steep topography,becauseofthe
dangerthat the fire may cross the slopebelowthe crew
and sweep uphill to trap them. A fireline shouldnot be
builtdownhillin steep terrainand fast burningfuels,
unless there is no suitablealternativefor controllingthe
fire; and then only when all safetyrequirements are
adhered tofor downhill fireline construction (See also
NWCGFireline Handbook, Chapter4,page 46.):
d. Air Operations. Inaddition totheaviation
considerations listed for the Northwestarea, the
following should be consideredfor the NorthernRocky
Mountain area.
Nighttimeinversion willhold smoke invalleys until mid
orlate morning and make air operations doubtful.
Air tankers have alow priority on large fires. In
appropriate situations, aerial retardantcan be effectively
used for:
1. Holding action on small fires or spot fires.
2. Tactical support toline crews.
3. Pretreatmentor indirect attack.
Paracargo for camp resupply is an option (24 hr notice
When using dirt airstrips for crew/cargo transport,
downloading or early morning or late afternoonflights
e. Critical fire problems areinlodgepolepine and
lodgepole pine/subalpinefueltypes where 50percentof
thelodgepolepineisdeadand "jackstrawed."
Inthesestands,treemossanddeadaerialfuels suchas
smalltwigshavethegreatest influenceoncrown fires.
Treesloaded withmossandlichens thatextend from the
tips ofthetrees totheground presentthe worst
conditions. Crown fires can startwhen asufficient
amount ofground fuels ispresentto carry fire to the
aerial fuels. Theproblem becomes one ofdirect vs.
indirect attack. Thefinaldecision isusually a
combinationofbothmethodsbasedon safety,cost,
in atimely manner.
f. Canyon Country. Aparallelorflanking strategytied
into good anchorpoints usuallyworks best.
1. Make sureyouuse aleadplane with air
tankers for bestresult.
2. Let fire come to the top, ratherthan build
line downhill.
3. Maximum, aggressiveeffortatnightis
4. Make sure operationoverheadand crew
bosses workingthe nightoperationalperiod
have seen their assignedwork area in
5. Burnoutis preferred to backfiring.
6. Ifyou are buildingline from the ridgetop
tothebottom, find aside ridge that goes all
the way. Bumout asyou go, leavinga
goodclean edge with asolid blackline.
g. Safety Zones. Itisessentialtohave firelines anchored
toasafety zone ortocreate safety zones aswork
progressesalong the flanks. Determiningsafety zone
dimensionsbasedonpercentslope, heightofadjacent
timberandadjacent fuel loadingisacriticalassessment
that must be done inatimelymanner.
h. Campsareoften necessarytoimplementastrategyand
are effectivein reducingthe fatigue ofcrews. Any time
travel from the incidentbase tothe fireline exceedsone
hour, seriouslyconsiderestablishingcamps. (Campsare
recommended, ratherthan helicoptertroop movements.)
1. Coyote tactics aresometimesnecessarybecauseof
logistics. Ifcoyote tactics areestablishedthey are often
suppliedwith helicopterlong lines. Timingofload,
adequatewater, and wash kits are critical.
J· Dozeruse. Bulldozersare in constantuse for fire
suppressioninthis geographicareabecauseofheavy
fuel complexes. Dozersareextensivelyused on large
fires asthe main linebuildingmethod.
They  are  more  likely  to be  used  where  fires  have 
escaped initial  attack,  rather  than  during  initial attack. 
Bulldozers are often  used  to reopen  logging roads  ahead 
of engines.  Preconstruction of firelines  around heavy 
slash concentrations is also a common application. 
k.   Eastern  Montana has  large  prairie  fires  from  300  to 
1,500 acres that  can be controlled with  20 to  30 people 
at night.  Hit  and run tactics  are  applied at the  critical 
points  in  the  fire  perimeter.  This  type  of tactic  requires 
personnel and equipment to be highly  mobile  and have 
good  communications with  all  units  on  the  fire.  If air 
tankers  are used,  3 or 4  should  be  ordered at  a time  and 
lined  up  by  a lead  plane  for  trail  drops.  One  air  tanker 
is usually  useless.  Smoke jumpers are a good 
suppression force  because of their  mobility. 
A real  safety  hazard  in Eastern Montana and  the 
Dakota's  is pockets  of surface  gas in low  areas. 
Pipelines  and coal  seams also present unique  hazards.  A 
"HAZMAT"  specialist should  be  ordered if  you  are 
around  any of these  operations. 
7.   Key  Areas  of Concern. 
a.   Safety  (Helicopter evacuation and  fire  shelters  are  not 
acceptable  escape routes). 
b.   Snags  - from  old  fires,  bug  kill,  and  drought conditions. 
c.   Spot fires  in subalpine types  - aerial  fuels  and  ladder 
d.   Density  altitude  - helicopter limitation. 
e.   Communications - difficult to establish in first  48  hours 
in  remote  areas. 
f.   Avoid  night  work  in cliff and  heavy  snag  areas. 
g.   Rock  slides after fuel burns  off steep  slopes. 
h.   Location of safety  zones  in dense  timber  areas.  You 
cannot build  them  big enough.  Indirect attack can  get 
you  in  trouble. 
1.   Wide  variation of fuel  types  and  arrangements. 
J.  Warning  signs  of long-range  spotting  or  erratic  fire 
Relative  Humidity,  < 15 percent 
Flame  Lengths,  > 8 feet 
Live  Fuel  (foliage)  Moisture,  < 60  percent 
10 Hour F.M.  Below  10 percent 
Windspeed exceeds  10 mph 
1000 Hour  F.M.  is in  10 to  13 percent range 
Watch  your  relative  humidity  recovery  rate  at 
night.  If it is less  than  60 percent, expect early, 
rapid  burning. 
k.  Fire  Whirls  - E-W  drainages. 
1.  Giardia lamblia 
m.  Bears  are attracted by  food,  keep  firelines  clean. 
n.  Vertical  mine  shafts in many  areas  of the  west. 
(Example: Black Hills of S.D.) 
Southern California has  had  a long  history  of large  and  damaging fires. 
Some  of the  more  notable  include  Laguna,  1970-182,000 acres,  Marble 
Cone,  1977-170,000 acres,  Panorama  1980-300  homes,  the  numerous fires 
in  the  fall  of 1993 which  burned over  200,000 acres.  Deaths  to  firefighters 
include:  Inaja,  1956-11 fatalities,  Decker,  1959-7 fatalities,  Loop,  1961-12 
fatalities,  Spanish  Ranch,  1979-4 fatalities,  Glen  Allen,  1993-2 fatalities. 
Weather conditions,  such as the Santa Ana winds,  cause  adverse  fire 
behavior and  rates  of spread  under  severe  conditions that  may  reach  6,000 
acres  per  hour.  These  fires  are  further  complicated by  highly flammable 
fuel  and  steep  topography. 
Firefighters must  be  constantly aware  of structures within the  wildland. 
Virtually any escaped wildfire  in which  a Type  I Team  is  assigned will 
involve a  structural threat.  During  the  fall  of 1993,  over  1,000  homes 
were  destroyed between October 26,  and  November 4,  through  a  series  of 
fires  in  southern  California.  Even  a relatively small  fire  such  as  the 
Sycamore fire,  (1979-less  than  1000 acres-245  homes)  and  the  Paint fire, 
(1990-900  acres  641 homes)  can  present substantial structural protection 
problems.  Whenever structures  are  threatened,  numerous  other agencies 
will most  likely be involved and must be included in incident management 
For  purposes  of this  information,  southern  California will  include San 
Diego,  Riverside,  San  Bernardino,  Orange,  Los  Angeles,  Ventura,  Kern, 
Santa  Barbara,  San Luis  Obispo,  and Monterey counties.  This  area 
involves  the Santa Monica  Mountains  National  Recreation Area,  Cleveland, 
San Bernardino, Angeles,  Los  Padres  and  Sequoia National Forests. 
A.  Chaparral. 
Southern California fuel  is dominated by  brush  but  includes large 
areas  of oak woodland and  some  small  stands  of timber.  The  term 
chaparral is often  used  to describe  these  fuels.  Chaparral 
communities are generally  bounded by  timber stands  above  and 
grasslands below.  Elevations  where  chaparral is  found  vary  from 
about  500  to  5,000  feet.  Chaparral is  well  adapted to  fire  and  a fire 
every  20 to 30 years  is necessary to keep  it healthy. 
Chaparral's relatively large amount of loosely arranged small
material, much of it becoming dead as the plants mature, and its
highly volatile oil content make it extremely flammable. Burnable
chaparral fuel will average 15 to 20 tons per acre but can range
from 2 to 40 tons per acre. After a fire, the chaparral is relatively
fire-resistant for about 15 years. At about 20 years of age the
proportion of dead fuels becomes great enough to support big fires
under adverse conditions. As a consequence, the recurrence
intervals of fires more than 5,000 acres is 20 to 40 years. Most fires
in chaparral which exceed 30,000 acres occur in age classes greater
than 30 years. Chaparral is Fire Behavior Fuel Model 4.
1. Chamise and Manzanita - The Primary Components.
Chamise is the most abundant and widespread of all chaparral
shrubs in southern California It usually occupies the drier,
south facing slopes. Manzanita is the second most important
group of shrubs and it usually occupies the more moist, north
facing exposures. Chamise decreases in abundance with
elevation and gives way to manzanita at higher altitudes.
2. Other Chaparral Fuel Components.
Other specific fuels included in southern California chaparral
are buckwheat, sage (several types), scrub oak, and oak
woodland sumac. There are many additional fuels; however,
they don't match these in consequence.
B. Fuel Characteristics.
Grass in southern California usually begins to bum in May.
Normally, chaparral will start to bum and sustain fire in late June or
early July. The fire season ends around the first of December.
However, major fires have occurred in January, February, and
March. Chaparral fuels are relatively drought resistant; live fuel
moistures may drop to 60% during critical periods. Dead fuel ratios
will range from 15 to 50%, depending on the age of the fuel.
C. Chaparral Communities in Other Regions.
Chaparral is also found abundantly in Arizona. Arizona chaparral
and California chaparral have common origins on the North
American Continent. Arizona chaparral differs from California
chaparral as follows:
1. Arizona chaparralhas ahigher portionofsprouting shrubs.
2. Most ofArizonachaparral is on rough brokenterrain at
elevations thatrange from 3,000 to 6,000 foot elevations.
3. The upper elevations borderponderosapine or pinyonjuniper
andthe lower elevations borderdesert grasslandor southern
desert shrubs.
4. Arizona chaparral grows primarily during the summer
whereas Californiachaparral grows primarily in the winter.
5. Thefirefrequency inArizonachaparralis somewhatless than
Californiachaparral. Although, wehave identifiedsome
differences inCaliforniaand Arizonachaparral, they are both
dependent uponfire toremain healthy andbehavevery
similarly under extreme fire conditions.
Thetopographyin southern Californiaisunique. Itconsists ofcoastaland
inland valleys whichleadtomountain ranges withelevationsfrom sealevel
to 11,000feet. Thechange inelevation from thebase ofthemountain
slopes isveryrapid; slopesinexcess of40% arecommon. This rapid
change inelevationcanresultinfuel typechanges over arelatively short
horizontaldistance. Mostfires occur inthe 1,000to5,000 foot elevations.
East and north ofthe mountain ranges areprimarilydesert plateaus.
A. Topographical Features.
Thetopography consistsofbrokencanyons withmany steep side
drainages. Suchtopography causesuneven surface heating, radical
changes withfuelconditions, opposing winddirections andresulting
erratic fire behavior. Other unique features include:
1. Chimney andchutecanyons- Chimneys andchutes are
common andvaryindepth from afew feet upto 1,000feet.
Many firefighters havebeenkilled inor above these
topographicalfeatures, such asduring the Loop Fire on the
Angeles in 1966,when 12firefighters died.
2. Steep rock areas - Steep rocky areas can make firefighter
accessdifficult andprovide additional safety hazards to
B. Access.
A good road system of major freeways, county roads and forest
roads provide rapid access to many areas and also provides natural
fuel barriers. Major roads are quite often used as control lines and
anchor points. This is why engines are a primary suppression
Annual rainfall in southern California varies depending on elevation, from
10 to 40 inches a year. From May until December little or no rain falls.
Fuels at the lower elevations such as grass, light brush and desert fuels will
burn early in the season. As the heavier brush dries Ollt, depending on
rainfall and weather, it will start to bum in June. A dry winter will cause
an early season in heavy fuels but will reduce starts, spotting, and rates of
spread due to less flashy fuel. The worst type of fire season for southern
California is a wet spring, a hot dry summer, and Santa Ana winds. Such
was the case during the bad fire years of 1967, 1970, and 1980. In 1993,
southern California experienced a wet spring, a dry summer and Santa Ana
Winds - over 200,000 acres were burned during the Santa Ana Wind
A. Temperatures.
An onshore weather pattern is standard through much of the early
and mid-fire season. Temperatures vary, but as a general rule will
follow this daytime pattern: 70 to 80 degrees in the immediate
coastal areas (1-5 miles inland), 80-90 degrees in the coastal plains
and valley areas, (5-20 miles inland), 80+ degrees in the mountain
areas (20-50) miles inland and 100+ degrees in the desert areas
(about 50+ miles inland). Night temperatures depend on the time of
season but generally cool rapidly in the coastal and mountain areas,
but remain warm in the desert during the summer months.
B. Humidities.
Humidities will range from 20-40 percent, depending on distance
from the ocean. In coastal and inland areas humidity recovery is fast
and can cause major problems with back fire and burnout operations.
Use your sling psychrometer! Coastal fog will keep morning and
mid-afternoon humidities up and temperatures down. Coastal fog
usually occurs in May and June. Conditions at higher elevations
maybe much hotter and drier than in coastal valleys.
Coastal fog  may  require the  movement of aircraft from  one  location 
to  another on  the  fire,  and  from  one  air  base  to  another. 
C.   Wind. 
Because of the relationship of the desert plateaus and  the  Pacific 
Ocean,  the  normal  wind  pattern is west  or  southwest.  Winds will 
vary  during the  daytime from  5-15  mph.  Due  to  surface heating in 
the  inland valleys  and  desert,  the  onshore flow  will  increase during 
the  afternoon hours.  Downslope winds  will  start  at  dusk  and  be  in 
the  5 to  10 mph  range.  They  normally  stop  by  dawn.  This  wind 
cycle is known as a diurnal variation.  The  downslope winds are 
strongest at the  base  of mountains  and  in  river drainages. 
D.   Special Weather Conditions. 
There are  special weather conditions which are  important to  be  able 
to  predict and  recognize.  These conditions are  as  follows: 
1.   Santa Ana Conditions. 
Santa Ana  wind  conditions occur when  a high  pressure system 
develops  over the  Great Basin area.  Air  will  move from  the 
high  pressure system to the  low  pressure system over the 
Pacific  Ocean.  All aspects  of the  weather change as follows: 
a.   Wind - The  normal pattern of onshore flow  reverses 
dramatically to  a high  velocity offshore flow.  Santa 
Anas  are  a gradient foehn  type  wind  which cause 
extreme fire  conditions.  The  wind  will  blow from  30  to 
50  mph,  and has been known to gust to  90-100 mph. 
During the  182,000  acre  Laguna Fire  (1970),  wind 
conditions were  reported to  be  80-90 mph  and  the  fire 
spread at  an  average rate  of 6,000  acres  an  hour 
(between 450  and  500  chains per hour)  for  19 hours 
straight.  The  winds  often blow  strongest at  night and 
during  the  early  morning hours.  During light Santa 
Anas,  you  may  get  a light westerly flow  in  coastal areas. 
These winds  normally last  for  about three  days.  The 
last  day  of a Santa Ana  will  change to  the  regular on-
shore  flow  but  will  return the  dry  air  that  was  pushed 
out to sea.  This is sometimes called an ebbing Santa 
Thiswindchange willcause thefire tochange direction
andcanpose ahazard tofirefighters. You should
closely monitor thepredictedwind changes.
b. Temperature- Temperature will gain about five degrees
per 1,000foot drop inelevationand will be in the 80's
inthemountains and90-100 degree range in the lower
c. Humidity - Humidity willdroprapidly with the onset of
theSantaAna. Itmaydecrease tobetween5and 10
percent andhasbeenrecordedaslow as 1to2percent.
Fuel moisture will alsodrop rapidly, especiallyinthe 1
and 10hour fuels andgodown tothe 2-5 percentrange.
2. SundownerWinds - The Sundownerisalso agradient
downslope typewind. Thisspecialcondition takesplaceinthe
Ojai andSanta Barbarafront country some 90 miles northwest
ofLos Angeles. Thedifference withthe Sundowneristhe
speedinwhichitdevelops anddiminishes. Theareainwhich
Sundowners occurinvolvethesteepslopeswhich rise
immediatelyadjacenttothePacific Ocean andthedesert
plateau immediatelybehind themountain range. These two
vastly different areasinclose proximitycause amicro-climate
torapidly develop when there are temperaturedifferences
betweenthedesert andthe ocean front. The airin the micro
high pressure flows tothe micro low pressurearea ofthe
ocean front. This airflow isenhancedbythe normal down
canyon wind startingaround sundown. The aircompresses
andheatsasitflowsdownthemountain slopestoward the
ocean. Sundownershaveallofthesamecharacteristicsas
Santa Anas (temperature increases, humiditydrops, etc.) but
these events happen much morerapidly. Due tothe rapid
onset,Sundownerwindshavecausedfiredeaths suchasthe
Romero Fire in 1971,on the Los Padres Forestwhere four
fatalities occurred.
Many firefighters  have  been killed in  southern California.  Fires  run  hot 
and  fast.  A  typical fire  from  July through August with  a  normal onshore 
flow  (10  to  15 mph)  will  burn  175 to  200  chains per  hour with  flame 
heights of 20 to 25 feet  on moderate slopes.  Spotting can  be  expected. 
In  September,  October,  and  November,  fires  will  burn  250  to  275  chains 
per  hour with  flame  lengths  greater than  30  feet.  Moderate intermediate 
and  long  range  spotting is common. 
Wildfires in  chaparral will  slow  and  rapidly lose  intensity as  they  reach the 
5,000 foot  elevation range.  Normally,  evenings  will  cool  and  fire 
intensities will  subside substantially.  Canyon bottom and  mid-slope runs 
will  still  occur,  however sustained runs  with  high  intensities are  the 
exception under normal conditions at night. 
Unless  the  area  is  under extreme drought conditions,  fires  under normal 
onshore wind conditions  will  not  continue to  run  or  carry through the 
mixed conifer stands  at higher elevations. 
Under Santa Ana  conditions,  fires  will  bum with  extreme intensity.  These 
can  occur at  anytime of the  year,  but  are  most dangerous  in  the  fall  when 
fuel  moistures are  at their lowest.  Rates  of spread can  exceed  1,000  acres 
per  hour and  flame  lengths of 75  feet  or  greater are  not  unusual.  Santa 
Ana  conditions cause extreme burning at all  hours  of the  night and  day. 
Long range spotting up  to  a half mile  or  greater can  occur. 
Santa Ana fires  are  influenced by  the  wind  with  virtually no  influence from 
topography.  Once  the  Santa Ana  Winds  start to  subside,  there will  be 
various wind changes from  opposite directions  as the  onshore flow  tries  to 
overcome the  high pressure air  movement from  the  east.  Fire behavior 
during this  transition can  be  confusing and  dangerous. 
Strategy is  the  broad plan,  tactics is  what  you  do  to  carry out  the  plan. 
There is often much  confusion concerning what  are  tactics  and  what is 
strategy.  Strategy is  usually the  overall general plan.  Tactics  are  the 
specific actions  and methods to accomplish the plan. 
A.  Strategy. 
Initial attack strategies in  southern California include fast  aggressive 
initial attack.  Due  to land  ownership patterns and  rapid rates  of 
spread,  fires  usually involve several jurisdictions and  threaten 
structures  and  other improvements. 
Extended attack strategies include the 3 C's which are Confine,
Contain and Control. Most fire situations in southern California will
result in a control strategy. Because of the multijurisdictional
involvement, and structures and improvements at risk, controlling
the fire at its smallest practical size will usually be the general
B. Tactics.
Tactics are those specific actions taken to accomplish the overall goal
(strategy). Your tactics will be based upon using the right equipment
(both in quantity and type) to suppress the fire safely, and meet all of
the incident objectives. Your tactics will be developed based on
current and expected fire behavior.
1. Direct Attack.
In southern California it is always safest to employ direct
attack. Because of the steep terrain, it is not always possible to
see the entire fire. Because of the numerous canyons and
broken topography, the wind can be erratic. Add to these
factors the flashy, fast burning fuels and direct attack is
obviously the safest tactic. In chaparral fuels it is always best
to have "one foot in the black" whenever possible. During
Santa Ana Winds, it is best to flank the fire, as it is virtually
impossible to stop the head of the fire during these conditions.
If the fire is too intense for direct attack, parallel tactics can be
used. Parallel tactics involves getting far enough away from
the fire to avoid the heat and still see it. Line is fired out as it
is constructed.
2. Indirect Attack.
Indirect attack is usually employed when the fire is already
large and other tactics are not safe or appropriate. It is risky
and must be well planned with all of the necessary safety
precautions including Lookouts, Communications, Escape
Routes, and Safety zones (LCES) strictly adhered to. Burnout
or back fire will normally be used in conjunction with indirect
tactics. Burning must be well planned and executed. Burning
must always be accomplished with favorable wind conditions,
adequate resources and when the exposure of the fuels is
Southern California fuels  will  often  be  difficult to  ignite  if 
they  are  shaded  (cold)  and will  suddenly takeoff with  greater 
intensity  than  anticipated once exposed to the sun (hot).  Most 
of the  firefighters  killed  in  southern California have  died 
during indirect  attack operations.  These  include  the Inaja 
1956 - 11 fatalities,  Decker  1959 - 7 fatalities,  Loop  1966 - 12 
fatalities,  Libre  1968 - 1 fatality,  Bell  Valley  1972 - 1 fatality, 
the Spanish Ranch  1979 - 4 fatalites,  and the  Glen  Allen  1993 -
2 fatalities. 
When fire intensity  is extreme,  such as in Santa  Ana 
conditions,  the tactical  posture  may be  primarily defensive 
rather  than  offensive,  since the conditions make  offensive 
tactics  futile  and  dangerous.  Protection of structures,  critical 
watersheds or other  values  may be the only  tactic  that  is 
attainable.  As offensive  opportunities present themselves, it 
will  be  important to be  prepared with  resources  to  take 
advantage  of them.  This  posture  may continue until  the 
conditions  change  and the fire's  intensity reduces. 
3.   Structure  Protection. 
Structure protection will  quite  often  take  away  many  of the 
wildland firefighting  resources.  You  will  have  to  make  tough 
judgments on resource  allocation.  When  possible,  allocate 
structural protection to  the  local  structural protection agency 
and when  applicable  involve  them  in a unified command 
structure.  One of the biggest challenges an incident 
commander will  encounter is  attaining  perimeter control when 
structures  are  involved.  The  best  overall  structure  protection 
strategy  is  to  control  the  wildfire. 
Type  1 and  Type  2 engine  strike  teams  are  often ordered for 
structural  protection assignments.  This  type  of equipment is 
usually  readily  available.  However there  may be times  when  a 
mixture  of Type  2 and Type  3 engines  may  be  more 
appropriate.  When  making  tactical  decisions consider: 
a.   Firefighter  Safety.  (ALWAYS  OUR  FIRST 
b.   Rescue-Evacuation. 
c.   Available  Engines. 
d.   Location  of Homes. 
e.   Roof Coverings. 
f. Rate of Spread.
g. Direction of Spread.
h. Engine Access.
1. Water Supplies.
J· Defensible Space.
4. Tactical Resources.
a. Engines:
The primary attack tool in southern California is the
engine. There are literally hundreds available with
quick attack times due to a good urban and rural
highway system.
Wildland engines normally carry 500 to 1,000 gallons
of water, a 250 to 500 gpm pump, and about 2,000 feet
of hose plus handtools. Hose lays and mobile pumping
is done on most fires. A number of wildland engines in
southern California are equipped with Class A foam.
Class A foam proved to be invaluable during the 1993
Santa Ana fires. The Los Angeles County Fire
Department is currently equipping many of their
engines with this capability.
b. Hand Crews.
Abundant in southern California.
(1) USFS - 9 Hot Shot Crews.
(2) CDF - 65 Hand Crews.
(3) LA COUNTY - 30 Hand Crews.
All are fully trained and equipped, they have
radios and are mobile.
c. Dozers.
Plentiful, several available from fire agencies for initial
attack. Many rentals available; however, training may
be limited. Size D-6 to D-7 is best for the fuel and
terrain. Federal agencies have land management
limitations on the use of dozers in almost all areas of
southern California.
d. Aircraft.
Five airattack bases serve the area with 15minute
attack times. Anumberofthese bases arejointly
operatedand staffed by COF and the U.S. Forest
Service. Aircrafttypes include C-130's, Orions, OC-
6's, OC-4's and COF S-2'S. Terrain favors coordinated
attack with aircraftand helitackcrews. Approximately
15initial attack helitackcrews are availablewith both
mediumand light helicopters.
Normally, tactics willuse acombinationofall ofthese
resources; engines, dozers, aircraft, and handcrews. At
higherremoteelevations, operations are usuallylimited
to hand crews and aircraft.
5. TacticalPlanning.
Californiafires move fast and constantlythreaten
improvements on multiplejurisdictions. It is importantto
have apersonwith local fire expertisefor inputto the
planningprocess. Becauseofthe frequency offires in
southernCaliforniaitis also helpfulto have bumhistorymaps
ofthe area. Fires in southernCaliforniaoftenrepeat
themselves andreviewingpreviousburns inthe same area may
prove tobeinvaluable. Long range contingencyplanningis a
necessity. Youmusthave anidea ofwhat your next move will
be ifcurrenttactics fail. Includingthe otherjurisdictionalfire
agencies into this process isalso important. Itisimportantto
startyour demobilizationplan asearly as possible. Withvast
amounts ofresources that can be mobilizedin ashortperiod
oftime, itiskey to start thinkingabout demobilizationand
priorityreleases asearly oninto the incidentaspossible.
Firefightersafety will always be the primaryincidentobjective. Someof
the historical southernCaliforniasafety problems include:
A. Fireline safety - It isimportantto stress LCES (Lookouts,
Communications,Escape Routes andSafety Zones). This is
particularlyimportantwhen any tactic otherthan directattackis
being employed. Numerous fatalities have occurredin grass and
light flashy fuels with flame lengths of4feet. An area may look
relativelycalmandinnocentpriorto achangeinfactors whichcause
light fuels to make anexplosiverun. Light fuels react very quickly
As previously stated,  during  Santa Ana  Wind conditions,  you  will 
often be  in  a defensive posture,  flanking  the  fire  as  it heads  in  a very 
predictable direction.  Problems can  occur when  a Santa Ana  starts 
to dissipate  and  the  onshore flow  starts  to return.  This  ebbing Santa 
Ana can  result in  wind changes which will  tum a  fire  from  a  wind 
driven fire  often  burning down- or  cross-slope back to  a  fire  which 
is influenced by  wind  and  topography.  This  can  cause  the  fire  to 
start  burning back up the  slope  flanking  itself.  When Santa Ana's 
and  onshore winds  battle for  control,  a fire  will  run  downslope  with 
the Santa Ana influence and then run upslope as the onshore takes 
over.  This  can  occur several  times  as the  wind  influence makes  its 
The  sundowner winds  in the  Santa Barbara area  must  always be 
considered.  They  will  occur at dusk  with  little  warning and  cause 
strong  winds  from  the  north  and  east  to  run  from  the  desert plateau 
to  the  ocean.  Extreme fire  behavior will  occur. 
B.   Air  operations in  southern California are  complicated.  Smog and 
smoke  will  often cause  poor visibility.  There  are  numerous  private, 
commercial,  and  military  aircraft in  the  area,  along  with  dense 
populations and all of the  associated hazards  (powerlines,  antennas, 
etc.).  It is  always  important to have  the  Federal Aviation 
Administration declare  temporary  flight  restrictions  over and  around 
the  fire.  Because of the  numerous  low  level  military training routes 
in  southern California,  it is  important to  double  check with  the 
military to  assure  they  are  aware  of the  restricted air  space. 
C.   General kinds  of fireline  safety  issues  include; 
1.   Heat Exhaustion  - Make  sure  firefighters  drink and  carry 
sufficient fluids.  Heat  exhaustion is a common problem. 
2.   Critters - Southern California has  poisonous rattlesnakes, 
scorpions,  ticks  and bees.  Persons who  are  allergic to insect 
bites  should carry  medication for  anaphylactic reactions.  The 
Pajahuello tick can cause  severe  damage to  surface skin  and 
underlying tissues;  Lyme  disease  can  be  a serious long  term 
health hazard.  Proper clothing and  sleeping arrangements  will 
help  prevent bites.  Stay  away  from  rodents  and  rodent 
burrows,  hantivirus  is  beginning to  be  a  serious  problem 
throughout  California 
3.   General Hazards  - Uneven terrain  and  rolling  material often 
result in  ankle  injuries,  blisters  and  cuts  from  handtools. 
4. Poison Oak- SouthernCaliforniahas poisonoak. Itisusually
found in or near shaded areas where fuels are more moist.
Central California alsohasahistoryoflarge, damaging fires. For
purposes ofthis information, central Californiawill includethe Sequoia,
Inyo, Sierra, Stanislaus,Eldorado, Tahoe, and LassenNationalForests,
Yosemite andSequoialKingsNational Parks (Central NevadaRange). Low
frequency, high intensitylarge fires are the historic pattern. This pattern
canoften beassociatedwith drought conditionsandlightningstorms;
however, human causedignitions have resultedinlarge damagingfires.
Structuralthreats can be aprotectionproblem, but somewhatdifferentthan
southernCalifornia. SouthernCaliforniastructures are often found
densely packedatthebase offoothills. Central Californiahas some areas
like this however, much oftheproblemconsists ofsmall communities
tucked inthewoods. Numerous houses andcabins canalsobefound
isolatedthroughoutthe area. Commercialtimber, spottedowl habitat,
archeological sites, wilderness area and other naturalresources are often
the protectionpriorities. Central Californiawildfires are often
characterizedbyheavy fuels, burning intenselyin remote areas. Logistical
support problems can be adifficult challenge.
The CentralSierra Range consists primarilyofgrass and oak atthe lower
elevations,mixed brush attheintermediatelevels andconiferousstands at
the higherelevations. The eastern sideofthe Sierras isdryerand consists
ofsage transitioninginto ponderosaandJeffreypine athigherelevations.
Mixedconiferfuels presentthe primaryfire problemin the Central Sierra
A. Oakwoodland.
Oak andgrass lands willbefound atthelowerelevationsupto 2,500
feet. These fuels occur primarilyonthe west side ofthe central
Sierras. Oak grasslands are Fire BehaviorFuel Modell with fuel
loading less than one ton per acre. Wildfireis carriedthroughthe
fine grass fuels. Fire spreads rapidlyand responds well to direct
control efforts.
B.   Mixed  brush. 
Mixed  brush  (chaparral,  deer brush,  ceanothus  and manzanita)  can 
be found at the intermediate  elevations  on the west  side of the 
Central  Sierras.  Mixed brush in the Central  Sierras  can often  be 
accompanied by  a timber  overstory. 
Mixed brush exists between  2,500 and 4,000 feet, it is a combination 
of Fire Behavior Fuel Models  2 and 4; with a fuel  load  that ranges 
from  10 to  20  tons  per  acre.  Wildfire  can  spread  moderately 
through  these  fuels  and be  very  difficult to  control. 
C.   Sage. 
Sage can be found at the lower to intermediate elevations  on the east 
side of the Central  Sierras.  Sage is Fire  Behavior Fuel  Model  2; its 
fuel load is less than one ton per acre.  Sage can bum at a moderate 
rate  of spread,  but usually  requires  a moderate  wind  to  spread.  Sage 
has little  continuity  on the east  side of the Sierra  range. 
D.   Mixed  Conifer. 
Mixed  conifer  can be found  from  approximately 4,000  to 9,000  feet 
elevation.  Mixed  conifer  is Fire  Behavior Fuel  Model  10, with  a 
fuel  load  that  can range  from  10 to 50 tons  per  acre.  Duff layers 
(compressed pine  needles  and organic  matter)  can  range  from  2 
inches  to 6 inches  in depth.  Mixed conifer in the central  Sierra 
Range  consists  of Jeffrey  pine,  white fir, Douglas-fir,  incense cedar, 
red  fir,  white  pine  and ponderosa pine.  Mixed  conifer fuels  present 
the  most  difficult  fire  problem  in the  Central  Sierra  Nevada  Range. 
The  worst  or most  hazardous  mixed  conifer fuel  is: 
1.   A combination of young  to  moderate  reproduction  and  mature 
conifer.  This  provides  ladder  fuels  to  the  crown  of the  mature 
2.   A combination of mixed conifer  fuels  combined with  a mixed 
brush  understory.  Once  again  this  provides  a combination of 
ground  and  crown  fuels. 
3.   Mixed  conifer  fuels  when the  1000 hour  fuel  moistures  dip 
down into the low teens.  Fuels become  explosive at this fuel 
moisture  content. 
The topography in the Central Sierra Ranges ranges from 2,000 to 13,000
feet elevation. The east side of the range is primarily desert, the west side
is primarily grassy valleys and farmlands.
A. Topographical features.
The topography consists of steep slopes, valleys, and canyons. In
most of the Central Sierras, lakes, streams, and ponds are plentiful.
The mountain range runs north and south with numerous canyons
and valleys facing east and west.
B. Access.
Access consists primarily of some paved roads, logging roads and
hiking trails. Helicopter transportation and walking can be primary
transportation modes. Fires with limited access present substantial
logistical problems.
The annual rainfall averages 10 to 20 inches at the lower elevations and
from 30 to 40 inches at the upper elevations. From July to September,
rainfall is minimal. Most large fires occur between late July and late
A. Temperatures.
Temperatures at the lower elevations range from the mid 70's to the
mid 90's. Temperatures can exceed 100 OF under extreme
conditions. At higher elevations (above 6,000 feet) temperatures
range from the high 60's to the low 80's. Temperatures can drop
below freezing at night at higher elevations.
B. Humidities,
Humidities can range from the mid 20's to the high 30's under
normal conditions. Humidities can drop to the low teens during
extreme conditions.
C. Winds.
Average winds range from 7 to 10 mph out of the south, southwest
under normal conditions. A frontal wind (in conjunction with the
passage of a weather front) can create wind speeds in excess of 30
D. Special WeatherConditions.
1. The most commonspecial fire weatherconditions are
thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are a source offire ignition
and cause erratic winds from unpredictabledirections.
2. Anotherspecial weatherconditionis "mono" oreast winds.
These gravity winds areusually associatedwith ahigh
pressuresystemmoving southeast acrossWashingtonand
Oregonfrom the GulfofAlaska. Humidities drop,
temperaturesrise andwinds canblow inexcess of30mph.
These conditionsoccur most often in spring andlate fall. A
wildfire underthese conditions, particularlyin fall, can be
very intense and difficultto control.
Wildfires in mixedconiferfuels burn hot at moderaterates ofspread.
Average chains per hour range from 10to 15. This can increase
dramaticallywhen spotting beings tooccur. Atypical wildfirein mixed
coniferfuels will burn hot andbe influencedby slope during peak burning
periods. At night the fire will lay relatively dormantuntil mid-morning
and repeat the pattern. This patternisoften complicatedby thick smoke
inversions incanyons and draws. During droughtconditions, extremely
intenseburningcanoccurinmixed coniferfuels. Convectioncolumnscan
rise in excess of35,000 feet. After anintensefire run, the convection
columnwill flatten out orbreakup. When this occurs itcan resultin
numerous spot fires sometimesmiles infront ofthe fire. This will often
resultin anumberoffires which leave difficultcontroland mopup
Spottingis always aprobleminmixed coniferfuels. Currently, as aresult
ofmany years ofdrought, dead fuels are abundant. There are pockets, 30
to 50 acres, of standing dead material. Fire, asit spreads into these areas
burns intenselyand sendsbarkplateletshigh into theconvectioncolumn.
This results inunusuallyviolent firebehaviorand long distancespotting.
Due toheavy dufflayers, mopup will be difficultand requiresignificant
Mixedconiferfuels with young reproductionor with mixedbrushalways
presentapotential for re-burns. A wildfire may burn through the brush
or smallerfuels and laterrun throughthe overstory. This is always a
dangerous possibility for firefighters.
A.  Strategy. 
Strategy,  as previously stated  is the overall  plan.  Strategies in  mixed 
conifer fuels  may  be  somewhat  different than  those  of chaparral. 
Fires  in  mixed  conifer fuels  usually  require thinking bigger and 
looking  for  opportunities  well  out  in  front  of the  fire. 
B.  Tactics. 
Tactics  are those  specific actions taken  to accomplish the  overall 
1.  Direct  attack. 
The best  method  for  attacking  fires  in mixed  conifer fuels  is 
direct  attack.  This  may not  always  be possible.  If the  fire 
demonstrates  any of the characteristics listed  below,  direct 
attack may not be possible. 
a.  Running  in the crown 
b.  Long distance  spotting 
c.  Substantial convention  column 
d.  Influenced by mono and east winds 
e.  Burning  in heavy  logging slash  or windfall 
2.  Indirect. 
If direct  attack  is not possible,  a combination of parallel attack 
on the flanks  and indirect  on the head  may be  necessary.  It is 
critically important to build  long  range  contingencies.  Look 
for  topographic  opportunities  in  front  of the  fire  which  allow 
sufficient  time to execute.  Backfiring operations must  be  well 
planned and  carried  out  only  under  ideal  weather and  burning 
conditions.  If the fire  is  running  and  spotting,  backfiring 
operations may make  the situation worse.  Consideration 
should  be  given  to burning at night,  if practical.  In  many 
cases  it will require  a change  in the weather conditions which 
are causing  the extreme burning  conditions before you  will  be 
successful  in halting  the  spread  of the  fire.  It may  be 
important to  think  in  terms  of 72  hours  rather than  12 or  24. 
Mopup will  be  a difficult job.  All  fireline  should be  black and 
mopped up  entirely  100 feet  inside.  If foam  can  be  used,  it 
will  make  the job easier.  (Mopup in these  fuels  is  very 
3.   Tactical resources. 
a   Hand crews  - In  large  fire  conditions,  hand crews  will 
be  one  of the  primary resources.  It  is  not  uncommon 
for  fires  to  be  in  remote  areas  with limited road  or 
heavy equipment access.  There are  numerous crews 
available in  California. 
b.   Dozers  - If the  topography permits,  dozers  will  be 
invaluable.  They will  be  particularly important in 
implementing contingency plans  where firing  from  a 
wide  fire  break is  required. 
c.   Aircraft - Aircraft  will  be  vital;  both  fixed  and  rotor 
wing.  Airtankers  will  assist not  only  supporting crews, 
but  in knocking down spots.  Rotor wing  will  be 
necessary for tactical operations as  well  as logistical 
operations.  Crew  transportation will  most likely be 
accomplished with helicopters.  Remote camps and 
coyote tactics  may  be necessary.  Helicopters will  be key 
to  the  success  of these  operations.  Aerial ignition for 
firing  operations  may  also  be  required.  Heavy lift  or 
Type I  helicopters  are  very  effective for  water and 
retardant dropping  in  mixed conifer fuels. 
d.   Engines - Fire  engines will  be  useful  if the  fire  is 
accessible or  if structures  are  threatened.  Engines  are 
normally  plentiful in  California. 
e.   Smokejumpers - Smokejumpers are usually used in 
initial attack operations.  Smokejumpers may  be  helpful 
in jumping or  rappelling into  isolated spot  fires  if this 
can be accomplished safely. 
Firefighter safety will  always  be  a primary incident objective.  Historical 
safety  and  special concerns in mixed conifer fuels  include: 
A.   L.C.E.S.  - Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes and  Safety 
Zones are  critical considerations in  mixed conifer fuels.  Visibility is 
often very  poor due  to  the  canopy and  indirect or  parallel  tactics  are 
often employed. 
B. Snags- Snagshavecausedmanyinjuries andfatalities. Snags areone
ofthe mostimportantfireline safety considerationsin mixedconifer
fuels. This becomes increasinglymore importantand dangerous
during night operations.
Duetorecent drought conditions, numerous pockets ofsnags exist.
Potential problem snags shouldbeflagged along thefireline or
anywhere crews maybeworking orwalking. Night operations may
have tobereduced tomonitoring ifthe problemis significant.
C. Mono-winds - Monooreastwinds cause humidities todrop andthe
temperaturetorise. Fires willbumintenselyand spread with the
windwhichcanexceed 30mph. These conditions develop when a
highpressure systemmovesfromtheGulfofAlaskasouth andeast
across WashingtonandOregon. Itcanbedangerous when this
situation develops and diminishes during fire operations. Fire spread
will change from slopeandtopography influencedto wind driven.
Thischange canoccurquickly andifnotanticipated, could place
firefighters injeopardy. Reburn potentialbecomes greaterduring
D. Dehydration- Fires in mixed coniferfuels often occurunderhot dry
conditions athigher elevations. Firefighters need tocarry sufficient
water. Keepingcamps andfireline helispots suppliedwith waterwill
be important.
E. Critters - Rattlesnakes, scorpions andticks (including ticks with
Lymedisease) arepotential problems. Bears maybefound in some
locations but arenotnormally aproblem. Hantivirusis asignificant
problem associatedwith rodents and rodent burrows. Avoid contact,
be suretohave safetyofficers workwithlocal health professionalsto
determine how tobest mitigate hantivirus exposures.
F. General hazards.
Steep terrain, heavy fuels, camp operationsand long durationfires
result infatigue, cuts, bruises, muscle pulls, colds, etc. Minorbums
areoften experiencedduetoburning stump holes.
A.   Topography. 
1.   Elevation:  Elevations of major  landforms in  this  geographic 
area  range  from  about  2,000  to  14,000 feet  above  sea  level. 
2.   Landforms:  Major  landforms  found  in these  areas  include the 
full  spectrum of broad  valleys  to mesas,  and mountains, 
varying  in elevation and steepness.  Most  mountain ranges  are 
oriented north  and  south  with the  Uintah  Mountains in 
northeastern Utah the  only  exception. 
B.   Weather. 
Because this area experiences a continental climatic  influence, it is 
subject to extended duration of hot,  dry,  and  windy  weather with 
frequent  thunderstorm activity  throughout the  summer. 
1.   Precipitation:  Precipitation varies  in  amounts  from  about  4  to 
25+ inches  per  year.  In the  Great  Basin area,  western 
Colorado,  and high  mountainous  areas  of Colorado,  the 
majority  of precipitation is  received in  winter in  the  form  of 
snow  and rain,  depending  on the elevation.  March is quite 
often  the  heaviest precipitation month.  But,  along  the  Front 
Range  foothills  of Colorado,  east  of the Continental Divide,  at 
lower  elevations,  the  majority  of precipitation comes in  form 
of rain  during  the  late  spring/early  summer months.  In  this 
area,  May is usually  the heaviest month  of precipitation.  This 
condition sometimes,  although  not  always,  results  in lower 
elevations experiencing a facsimile  of a split fire  season. 
When  early  springtime conditions  remain  dry,  fast  spreading 
fires  can be  supported by  dry  vegetation in late  March and 
early  April.  The  occurrence of this  situation diminishes  with 
late  spring  plant  growth  but  returns  in July  and  persists 
throughout the  fall  or  until  the  first  snowfall. 
2.   Relative  Humidity:  Relative  humidities can drop  to minimums 
in  the  single  digits  with  nighttime recovery ranging to  25  - 30 
percent.  Fire  behavior is generally greatest at lowest levels 
but  can  occur  up to  30 - 35 percent.  Above  this  level,  spread, 
and intensity are markedly  reduced,  although  strong  winds 
sometimes overpowerthedampening effects ofhumidity. An
significantlyintenseheadfires atrelative humiditylevels in
excessof30percentinthepresence ofwinds inexcess of20
3. Temperatures: During July andAugust, maximum
temperatures canreach 80- 100degrees with minimums 30-
50degrees lower. (Minimum temperatures can drop below
freezing andevenintotheteens. Snow can occur athigher
elevations during anymonth ofthe year.)
4. Winds: Upper airflow generallyoriginates from the west to
southwest andmovestotheeasttonortheast. Surface winds
vary greatly, are affected by local terrain, and afternoon
surfacewindsof 10- 20mpharecommon. Winds associated
with thepassage ofthunderstorms canreach higherlevels for
shortdurations andoften have significanteffects onfires.
Dust devils arecommon, anddry cold fronts frequently affect
active fires.
5. Storm Tracks: Storms track into the Great Basin from the
southwestandaffect southern andwestern Nevada, from the
northwestinto southern and central Idaho, and from the south
andwestintoUtah. The southernRocky Mountainareais
predominantlyaffected by storms tracking from the west and
southwestinto Colorado traveling tothe northeast. The
extreme southern portion ofthe state will receive aninflux of
monsoonalmoisture from Arizonaand New Mexicoduring
July andAugust. Occasionally, alow pressure innortheastern
NewMexicoorthepanhandle ofOklahomawillcause an
"upslope"conditionalong theFront Range. This iswhere the
counterclockwiseflow of airbrings moisturefrom the south
into eastern Colorado directly into the Rocky Mountainsfrom
theeast. Thissituation,however, isusually associatedwith
high amounts ofprecipitation.
6. Storm Frequency: Thunderstormfrequency increases asthe
summerprogresses. Moisture associated withthunderstorms
variesbutisgreatestathigher elevations. Inthe Great Basin
or western portion ofthis geographic area, thunderstorms will
persistintoAugustandearlySeptemberwhileinthe Southern
RockyMountainportion,thunderstorms begin inlateMay and
persist until mid-August, then drop dramaticallyin
7. Day lengths: Generally, daytime hours arefairly long but
traveling from southtonorth inthe area will increase the
daylengthaboutoneandone-halfhours. Thisimpacts
suppressionoperationsinthatthepeakburning activity occurs
atdifferent times andcanaffect operationalperiod crew
C. Fuel Types andFireBehavior.
Vegetative structureandcomposition intheGreatBasin and southern
RockyMountainsarecloselyrelatedtoelevation andprecipitation
variances. Temperatures increase, precipitationdecreases as
andgreaterdominanceofwoodyshrubsandgrasses. These
vegetativecommunitiescontainlowerfuelquantities andtendto
support fires withrapid rates ofspread but ofshort duration.
Containment actionsarelessrigorous thanforheavier fuel types and
mopupactivities areminimized.
Aselevations increase, temperatures drop somewhat, precipitation
communities. Thesecommunitiespossess greaterquantities offuel,
both alive anddead. Slowerrates of spread arecommon for fires in
theseareas,butintensitiescanescalatedramatically, andburnoutof
residual fuelsafterpassageoftheflaming frontcanbeoflong
durationnecessitatingextensivemopupactions. Thefollowing
sectionsprovideadescriptionofeachmajorvegetative type, andits
influence onfirebehavior. Dueto markeddifferences betweenfuels
intheGreatBasinareaandthesouthernRockyMountains, theywill
1. GreatBasinFuelTypes.
a. Desert: Truedesertsarelocatedinisolated places within
the GreatBasin,but present very little problemin terms
offire management.
b.   Salt Desert  Shrub: 
(1)   Description: These communities  occupy 
transitional zones between  sagebrush-grass and 
true  desert  communities.  They  are  found  at the 
lower levels of the elevational gradient,  elevations 
2,000  - 4,000  feet,  with  annual  precipitation 
amounts of 6 inches  and less, and experience 
maximum  temperatures  of  85 - 100 degrees.  Fuel 
loadings  are low,  with  woody  shrubs  comprising 
the dominant  component,  but these  shrubs  do not 
commonly  achieve  high crown  cover  levels. 
Understory herbaceous  plants  are  minimal. 
Natural  barriers  are  common. 
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  Due to the sparseness  of 
understory fuels,  surface  fires  seldom attain  any 
size of consequence.  The presence of wind  is 
required  to move  fires  between  shrub  crowns  and 
sustain  any  major  fire  spread.  However,  fuel 
limitation and  natural  barriers  commonly inhibit 
fires  from  affecting  extremely large  areas.  Head 
fires  are the  most  common  type  of fire  and  with 
strong winds can exhibit flame  lengths 
approaching  20 feet  with  rapid  rates  of  spread. 
c.   Grasses: 
(1)   Description:  Small isolated pockets  of native 
grasses  with few  woody  shrubs  occur throughout 
the Great  Basin.  These  areas  do not represent a 
fire  problem.  Following fires  in  sagebrush 
communities,  the  woody  shrubs  are typically 
removed  from  a  site  returning  it  to  grass 
dominance.  In some  areas, perennial grasses  will 
dominate  while in others,  annual  grasses, 
principally cheatgrass,  will  achieve  rapid 
dominance.  During  the  last  20 years,  many 
wildfires  have been  reseeded  with  crested 
wheatgrass  and large  monocultures exist. 
Recently,  rehabilitation efforts  involve  the  use of 
native species. 
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  In acured stage forbothannual
andperennialgrasses, rates ofspreadcan be high
but fires are relativelyeasy to control. Large
areas ofcheatgrasspose particularconcerns
becausethey reach acuredstage very early in the
summerand remainvery flammable throughout
thefire season. With high temperatures, low
relativehumidities, and strong winds, fires in
grasslands can produceflame lengthsthat prevent
direct attack with handtools and rates ofspread
that are very high. Safetyis aparticularconcern
inthesesituationsbecauseescaperoutes and safety
zones arefew andwhenpresentmust have quick
accessibility. Crestedwheatgrassmonocultures
are thoughttobe somewhatresistantto fire
spreadbecauseofthemaintenanceofhigh fuel
moisturecontentsbut during dry summers they
can supportactive fire spread.
d. Northern Desert Shrub:
(1) Description:  Thisvegetationcommunity
represents adry steppe communityfound between
the desert and pinyon-junipercommunities. This
communityoccupieslarge areas within the Great
Basinandisalso where the largestnumberof
wildfires occur. Elevations range from 2,500 -
5,000 feet, annual precipitationvaries from 6 - 10
inches, and maximumsummertemperatures
commonlyreach 80- 95 degrees. Sagebrushisby
farthedominant specieswithassociatedspecies
including rabbit brush, bitterbrush, snowberry,
other sagespecies, various annual and perennial
grasses, and forbs. Summertimeperiods are
generallyhot and dry with very low relative
humidities. Fuel volumes will vary significantly
dependingupon site, its moistureregime, and
human influences. Undermoistconditions,
sagebrushcan attain aheightof8feet but 3- 4
feet is the norm.
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  In areas where  livestock grazing  is 
deferred,  or  where  a winter allotment  exists, 
summer conditions  include  high  amounts  of 
understory  grasses  and forbs.  This  fuel  continuity 
strongly  contributes  to  surface  fire  spread.  In 
areas where  this  surface  fuel  continuity does  not 
exist,  wind is required to move  fires  between 
individual  sagebrush  plants.  Fuels  are represented 
by fuel models  2 and 5.  Flame  length  usually 
varies  from  3 - 15 feet  with  rate  of spread  being 
strongly  affected  by  terrain  and  wind.  Head  fires 
are most  common,  nighttime humidity recovery is 
sometimes  slight enough  to permit continual 
burning  activity.  Thermal  belts  will  also  maintain 
an  active  fire.  Spread  rates  are  high,  burned 
areas can reach  5 -10,000  acres  in  a single 
burning period.  With  critical conditions,  burned 
areas  can  go much  larger  in  a single  burning 
e.   Pinyon-Juniper: 
(1)   Description:  Pinyon-juniper communities cover 
large  areas in the  Great Basin,  occupying a 
transitional  zone between sagebrush communities, 
and higher  elevation montane  conifer forests. 
Pinyon is the dominant  species as elevations 
increase,  and juniper assumes  the  dominant role  at 
lower  elevations.  Western juniper is the only 
species occupying this zone in southeastern 
Oregon,  and southwestern Idaho  as the pinyon 
component drops  out this  far  north.  Associated 
species found in this  zone include  sagebrush,  other 
woody  shrubs,  grasses,  and forbs.  Generally 
understories  are  sparse  with  this  condition 
escalating  the older the stand is.  Young  stands 
commonly have  a large  understory component, 
usually  dominated by  sagebrush and other shrubs. 
Environmental conditions  common to this  zone 
include:  elevations  4,000  - 7,500  feet,  annual 
precipitation  10 - 16 inches,  maximum summer 
temperatures  70  - 85 degrees. 
(2)   Fire Behavior: Firebehaviorfuel models 2and6
best representthis community. The sparse
understory strongly controls the ability ofthese
communitiesto support surface fires. Fire
burning outofanother fuel type into this one can
travel into itin surface fuels, but seldom can
sustain this for very long. The arid nature ofthe
environmentcombinedwith the small stature of
these trees makes total crown closure ararity,
thus when crown fires do occur, they are totally
dependent upon strongwinds tosustain their
existence. Highquantities ofdeadanddowned
fuels inoldstands, highquantitiesofresin, pitch
inpinyon trees, andlowmoisturecontentsof
junipertrees aswell astheir shreddybark make
thiswoodland zone averyflammable situation.
Inthepresence ofstrong winds, 25 - 50+ mph,
independentcrown fires occurthat can cover
large areas, 1,000+ acres, but natural barriers and
fuel changes arecommonand limit spread.
Spotting canbeaproblembut withoutwind can
beeasilydealtwith. Wind isthekey elementin
these communities,fires are eithera single tree,
lowintensity event, or a wind-driven, high
intensity event coveringlarge areas.
f. PonderosaPine/Douglas-fir:
(1)   Description: Thesemontanecommunities
GreatBasin area. These communitiesarefound
between thepinyon-juniperwoodlands andthe
subalpine zone. Within this area, 75 - 80percent
ofallextended attack and/or team-actionwildfires
occur inthe Great Basin.
Thesecommunities occurbetween5,500 and
8,000 feet, arecomprisedofponderosapine,
Douglas-fir, occasional lodgepolepine, and
isolated aspentrees. Understories vary
significantlywithdrier siteshaving grass-needle
understories tothose having dense tall shrub
understories inheavily shadedconditions. Slopes
range from very steep to gentle. Activityfuels
andplantations canbepresentbutdonotpose any
particularproblems in this geographic area.
Annual precipitationranges from 12- 20 inches
and maximumsummer temperatures are found in
therange of70 - 85degrees. Fuel complexesin
thesecommunities havebeen markedlyaltered in
some areas through fire suppression, grazing,
timber harvesting, insect, and disease occurrence.
anddeadwoody materials havebeen changedto
areas characterizedby numerous dead overstory
trees, shade tolerantregeneration abundantin the
understory, heavy accumulations ofsurface fuels,
high vertical, andhorizontalfuel continuity.
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  Firebehaviorinthese
communitiesranges from low intensitysurface
firesinneedlegrass fuels toalltypes ofcrown
fires. The specific fire type that will occuris
dependent onthefuel availability, fuel quantities,
environmentalconditions, topographical
conditions, weather conditions, andpresentstand
structure. All types offires, (heading, backing,
flanking, andcrown) can occurwith active
burning possible throughoutnighttimeperiods
andsustained bythermal belts. Nighttime
inversions develop frequently invalleys but fires
Ofspecialconcern isthespeed with which afire
canchange from abenign surface fire toafast-
moving, high intensity, crown fire. Safety
considerationsregardingthis potentialare
paramount, fire behaviorpredictions are an
extremely valuable partofincidentaction plan
development, andimplementation.
g. SubalpineCommunities:
(1)   Description:  Thisfueltypecovers arelatively
smallarea athigher elevationswithin the Great
Basin, but fires that do occurhere are often
difficult, andexpensivetosuppress.
High  elevation communities are comprised of 
Englemann spruce  and  subalpine fir,  with  some 
lodgepole pine  present.  Surface fuels  can  be 
minimal  in  open  grown stands  or  very  heavy, 
predominantly large  down  tree  stems,  in  closed 
canopy  stands.  Tree  limbs  of both  species of trees 
usually  are present all the  way  to  the  ground, 
posing good  vertical fuel  continuity. 
Fire  Behavior:  These  stands  often burn in patchy, 
spotty  patterns  best described as hundreds  of spot 
fires.  Regular line  construction and  burnout 
efforts  are  ineffective on  fires  in  this  type. 
Spread is by  torching of individual trees  or 
groups  of trees  with  spotting into  more  individual 
trees  downwind.  Retardant is  seldom effective. 
These  fires  have  the  potential to  wear crews out 
especially in low  relative humidity situations with 
the constant torching and  spotting into  new  fuels. 
Heavy  down  fuels,  deep  duff layers,  and  dense 
stands  can  make  fire  suppression a very  laborious 
process.  The key  to  suppression in this  type  is 
having  crews  limb  up  all  trees  with  fire  under 
them,  to remove the  ladder fuels,  stop  the 
torching,  and  spotting into  new  fuels.  Once 
spread  is  stopped,  water from  pumps,  engines, 
foldatanks,  and bladder bags  can be  used  to  speed 
up the mopup  in deep  duff and  heavy  downed 
materials llnder  the  trees. 
2.   Southern Rocky  Mountains  Fuel  Types. 
a.   Salt Desert Shrub: 
(1)   Description: These  communities occupy arid 
locations  within  the  sagebrush-grass and  grassland 
communities.  They  are found  at the  lower levels 
of the elevational gradient,  elevations 4,000 -
5,000  feet,  with  annual  precipitation amounts of 7 
inches  and less,  and experience maximum 
temperatures of 85 -100  degrees.  Fuelloadings 
are low,  with  woody  shrubs  comprising the 
dominant component, but  these  shrubs  do  not 
commonly achieve  high  crown cover levels. 
Understory herbaceous plants are sparse or
nonexistent. Natural barriers are common.
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  Duetothesparseness of
understory fuels, surface fires seldom attain any
size. The presence ofwinds isrequiredtomove
firesbetweenshrub crowns sustainingany major
fire spread. However, fuel limitations and natural
barriers commonly inhibitfires from affecting
extremely large areas. Head fires are the most
common typeoffire andwith strong winds can
exhibitflame lengths approaching20feet with
rapid rates of spread. Fires usually are confined
todrainage bottoms, but may spread onto
sagebrush flats, orpinyon-junipermesas.
b. Grasslands:
(1)   Description:  Bothperennial andannualgrasslands
arepresent inthe southern Rocky Mountains.
Perennial grasslands arefound along the full
elevational gradient intheform ofextensive
grasslands atlower elevations tomountain
meadows athigherelevations. Annual grass lands
are comprisedofcheatgrass and are smaller
pockets inthe western portions ofthe area.
Perennial grasslands in the western portionare
comprisedofbunchgrassesand forbs, but donot
form continuous fuelbeds. Perennialgrasses in
theeastern portion are representedby sod grasses
ofthe short grass prairie althoughthese areas do
notpose awidespreadfire problem. In all areas,
cured grasses canpresent highly flammable fuels,
particularlyin areas not grazed, or subjectto
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  Inacured stageforboth annual
andperennial grasses, rates of spread canbe high,
but fires are relativelyeasy to control.
Cheatgrass standsposeparticularconcerns
because theyreach acured stage very early inthe
summerremaining very flammable throughout
thefire season.
With high temperatures, low relative humidities,
and strong winds, fires in grasslands can produce
flame lengths farinexcess ofwhat can be directly
attackedwithhandtoolsandrates ofspreadthat
are very high. Safetyis aparticularconcernin
thesesituations, andescaperoutes and safety zones
arefew, andwhen presentmust have quick
accessibility. Shortgrassprairieareas become
flammable early in the year (as early as March),
and remain in that state throughoutthe summer.
Inthe absence ofthunderstormrainfall, these
areas can sustain significantfire activityalthough
the duration is very brief.
c. Sagebrush-Grass:
(1)   Description:  Thisvegetativecommunity
represents adry steppe communityfound between
the saltdesert shrub and alkali flats and pinyon
junipercommunities. This communityoccupies
large areaswithin the SouthernRocky Mountains
andcanbefound asacomponentofother
juniper,montane conifers, aspen, and subalpine
lodgepolepine communities. Elevationsrange
from 4,000 - 6,000 feet as adominantcommunity
andupto 10,000feet as aminorcomponentof
othercommunities. Annualprecipitationvaries
from 6 - 10inches, maximumsummer
temperatures can reach 80-100 degrees.
Sagebrushisbyfarthedominantspecies with
associatedspecies includingrabbitbrush,
bitterbrush, snowberry, othersage species,
various annual andperennialgrasses, and forbs.
Speciescompositionincreases withelevationand
precipitation. Summertimeis generallyhot and
dry with very low relativehumidities. Fuel
volumes willvary significantlydependingupon
the site,its moistureregime, andhuman
influences. Under moist conditions, sagebrush
can attain aheightof8feet but 3- 4feet isthe
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  In areas where livestockgrazing is
deferred, or where a winterallotmentexists, or at
higher elevationalzones, summerconditions
include high amounts ofunderstorygrasses and
forbs. This fuel continuity stronglycontributesto
surface fire spread. In areas where this surface
fuel continuitydoes not exist, wind isrequiredto
move firesbetweenindividualsagebrushplants.
Fuels arerepresentedby fuel models 2and 5.
Flame lengths usually vary from 3- 20feet with
rate ofspread being strongly affectedby terrain
andwind. Heading fires are most commonand
burning activity. Thermalbelts will maintain an
active fire. Spreadrates are high and burned
areas can reach 1- 5,000 acres in asingle burning
period. With criticalconditions, burnedareas can
go much largerin a single burningperiod.
Seldom arewind events sustainedfor more than
twoconsecutiveburning periods, sothe size, and
duration offires in these communitiesislimited.
d. Pinyon-Juniper:
(1)   Description:  Pinyon-junipercommunitiescover
large areasintheSouthernRocky Mountainsbut
do not extend north ofColorado. These
woodlandcommunitiesoccupy atransitionalzone
betweensagebrushand oakbrushcommunities,or
higherelevationmontaneconiferforests. Pinyon
isthedominantspecies aselevationsincreaseand
juniperassumes the dominaterole atlower
elevations. Associatedspeciesfound inthiszone
include sagebrush, otherwoody shrubs, grasses,
and forbs. Generally understories are sparse with
thisconditionescalatingthe olderthe standis.
Young stands commonlyhave alarge understory
component, usually dominatedby sagebrush, and
other shrubs. Distinctdifferences occureast and
On the west  slope,  pinyon-juniper stands  are  very 
dense  old growth  having  large  quantities of down 
and dead material.  Many  stands have established 
on mesa tops and achieved near  optimal growth. 
In other  areas,  these  species  are encroaching into 
shrub  grasslands in  the  absence  of recurring  fire. 
Understories  are  comprised of a dominant shrub 
component.  On the  eastern slope,  pinyon-juniper 
stands are only found  in the  southern half of this 
area experiencing  substantial thunderstorm 
precipitation during  the  summer.  This  situation, 
in combination with  the understory  composition 
of short  grass  prairie  sod  grasses  and  no  shrub 
component,  causes low intensity,  small  wildfires 
with  only  an  occasional problem fire  occurring. 
Environmental conditions  common to this  zone 
include:  elevations  5,500  - 8,500 feet,  annual 
precipitation  10 - 14 inches,  maximum summer 
temperatures 75  - 95  degrees. 
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  Fire behavior fuel  models  2 and 6 
best  represent this  community.  The  sparse 
understory  strongly  controls  the  ability  of these 
communities to  support surface fires.  Fire 
burning  out of another  fuel  type  into  this  one  can 
travel  into  it in  surface  fuels  but  seldom  can 
sustain  this  for  very  long.  The  arid  nature  of the 
environment combined with  the  small  stature  of 
these  trees  makes  total  crown  closure a rarity, 
thus  when  crown  fires  do  occur,  they  are  totally 
dependent upon  strong winds  to  sustain  their 
existence.  High quantities  of dead  and downed 
fuels in old stands, high  quantities of resin  and 
pitch in pinyon  trees,  and low  moisture contents 
of juniper trees  as  well  as their  shreddy  bark 
make this woodland  zone a very flammable 
situation.  In the  presence of strong  winds,  25  -
50+ mph,  independent crown  fires  occur that  can 
cover  large  areas,  1,000  - 3,000  acres,  but  natural 
barriers  and fuel  changes  are  common and  limit 
Even though over 50percentofall wildfires
occur inthisvegetative type, few reach sizes, and
durations towarrant incidentmanagementteam
actions. Spotting canbe aproblembut without
windcanbeeasily dealt with. Seldomdomore
than three consecutiveburningperiodsoccurwith
highwindconditions, thus wildfires inthese
communities arerelatively short-lived. Wind is
thekeyelementinthese communities,fires are
either asingle tree, low intensityevent, or a
wind-driven, high intensityevent coveringlarge
areas. Many national parks and monuments are
located withinthisvegetationtype. Fast moving,
high intensity fires aredifficultto suppress posing
serious threats to communities, and other
developments. Some particularlytroublesome
examplesincludetheBattlementMesa fire,and
Long Mesafire inMesa Verde NationalPark.
e. Oakbrush:
(1)   Description:  Thisvegetativetypeisfairly unique
tothis geographic area. Approximately 10
percentofallextendedattack and/orteam-action
wildfires occur within this zone inthe Southern
Rocky Mountains. Itisfound inwarm, moist
environmentsmostly westofthecontinental
divide. Inits northern limits, it can be found as
pure stands, ormixed with othertall shrubs asa
mountain shrub zone. In its southernlimits, itcan
bepresentin apure community, or as adominant
understorycomponentof aspen, or ponderosa
pine stands. Oakbrushcan toleratefire extremely
wellandcanrespond with 18- 24inch sprouts
duringthesameseason itwasburned, depending
upon moisture conditions, etc. As anoverstory
dominant orinpure stands, itcan reach heights of
10- 12feet butisusually inthe 3- 6foot range.
As anunderstorydominant, itranges in height
from 2- 4feet. Itgrows asadense clump with
an understory oftotal groundcoverin the form
ofgrasses, sedges, andforbs.
Other  shrubs  can be  present  and  include 
chokecherry,  serviceberry,  mountain  mahogany, 
snowberry,  gooseberry,  rose,  greenleaf 
manzanita,  and  others.  Elevation ranges  from 
6,500  - 8,000 feet,  annual  precipitation varies 
from  12 - 18 inches,  and  maximum summer 
temperatures  can  reach  75  - 90  degrees. 
Fire Behavior: Fire behavior in oakbrush stands 
can be variable,  depending upon  many  factors. 
Fire  behavior fuel  models  for  this  type  can 
include  2, 4,  and 6.  Live  fuel  moisture levels 
reach  their lowest  about  the  end  of July.  The 
trend  in oakbrush live  moisture content will 
follow  that of cheatgrass:  The lowest  point  will 
occur  when,  or within  a few  weeks  of when,  the 
cheatgrass  reaches  the cured  stage.  Fires 
commonly  occur  during  July  and  August with 
intensities  varying.  Flame  lengths  frequently 
exceed  the limits  for  direct  attack  with  ground 
forces.  Special  conditions occur  in this  fuel  type 
that warrant close  attention.  When  late  season 
frosts  occur  after  leaves  have  developed,  frost-
killed  leaves  can remain  on the  shrub  throughout 
the  remainder of fire  season.  Following new  leaf 
growth,  flammability  can  be  greatly  increased,  to 
the  level  of  California chaparral.  Fires  occurring 
during these situations  can exhibit high  intensity, 
rapid  rates  of spread,  and can  develop  into  crown 
fires  very  quickly.  Steep  drainages  where 
preheating can  occur during  the  morning  and 
early  afternoon  are  particularly  dangerous  places. 
In  1976, within  a two  hour  period,  a benign 
appearing  fire  (Battlement Creek)  quickly  grew 
into  a rapidly  moving  crown  fire  that  traveled 
from  the bottom of  a drainage to  the  top  on  50  -
70 percent  slopes,  and  over  the  ridge  point at 
nearly  100 chainslhour.  Flame  lengths  were  20 -
40  feet,  this  fire  resulted in  three  fatalities.  In 
1994, another  benign  appearing  fire  (South 
Canyon),  grew  from  100 to  2000  acres  in  a few 
hours,  and was  responsible for  14 fatalities. 
Firesinthese communitiescanbeaffectedby
winds, slopes, orbyeither onein absence ofthe
other. Crowningruns can develop during
consecutiveburningperiods and prolong
suppressionactions. Ofparticularimportanceis
thefactthat afirecanremain active inthe leaf
litter understory during the night, backdown
slopes, andthen travel throughthe overstoryback
upslope during the day, in areburn scenario.
Alsoimportantisthefact that afire may show no
appearance ofactivity, quickly come tolife
during the peak ofthe burningperiod, making a
significant, and threateningrun. Mopup to reduce
the potential ofthis occurringis extremely
f. PonderosaPine/Douglas-fir:
(1) Description: Thesemontanecommunities
comprisea significantlyimportantportionofthe
SouthernRocky Mountainarea. These
communitiesarefound betweenthepinyon-
juniperwoodlands, the subalpine zone westofthe
continentaldivide, betweenthe short grass
prairie, andthe subalpine zone east ofthe
continentaldivide. Within this zone
and/or team-actionwildfires occurin the
Thesecommunitiesoccur between6,000 - 8,500
feet and arecomprisedofponderosapine, and
Douglas-firtrees. Understories vary significantly
with drier siteshaving grass-needleunderstories
tothosehaving dense shrub understories in
heavily shadedconditions. Slopes range from
very steeptogentle. Annual precipitationranges
from 12- 20inches, and maximum summer
temperatures are found in the range of70 - 90
degrees. Fuelcomplexesinthese communities
have been markedly alteredin some areas through
fire suppression, grazing, timberharvesting,
insect, anddisease occurrence.
Open stands having low accumulations of down 
and dead woody  materials  have been  changed to 
areas  characterized by  numerous  dead  overstory 
trees,  shade tolerant  regeneration  abundant in  the 
understory,  heavy  accumulations of surface  fuels, 
high  vertical,  and  horizontal fuel  continuity. 
Mountain  pine beetle,  and  spruce  bud  worm 
infestations  on the east  slope have  left entire 
hillsides  with standing  dead  trees  representing 
significant  snag hazards. 
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  Fire behavior in these 
communities ranges  from  low  intensity  surface 
fires  in needle-grass  fuels  to  all types  of crown 
fires.  The  specific  fire  type  that  will  occur is 
dependent on the fuel  availability, fuel  quantities, 
environmental conditions,  topographical 
conditions,  weather  conditions,  and present stand 
structure.  All  types  of fires,  (heading,  backing, 
flanking,  and crown)  can  occur with  active 
burning  possible throughout  nighttime periods, 
and sustained  by thermal  belts.  Nighttime 
inversions  develop  frequently  in  valleys  but  fires 
can sustain activity  above the inversion on slopes. 
Of special concern  is the  speed  with  which  a fire 
can change  from  a benign  surface  fire  to  a fast-
moving,  high  intensity crown  fire.  Safety 
considerations  regarding  this  potential  are 
paramount.  Fire  behavior predictions  are  an 
extremely  valuable  part  of incident action  plan 
development,  and implementation. 
g.   Lodgepole  Pine: 
(1)   Description:  Lodgepole pine  forests  comprise the 
second largest  forest  type in the  Southern Rocky 
Mountain  area.  Team-action wildfires  in  this 
vegetative  type  represent about  25  percent of the 
total.  Elevation of this  community ranges  from 
8,000 and  12,000 feet.  Annual  precipitation is 
primarily received in  the  form  of snow  and 
amounts  to  12 - 18 inches.  Maximum summer 
temperatures  range  from  65  - 80  degrees. 
Understory fuels are sparse or nearly absent in
this vegetative type. Stands are even-aged unless
infected by disease which has caused early
overstory mortality opening canopies for
regeneration. Fuel complexes have been affected
by insect and disease infestations. Mountain pine
beetles have infested widespread areas, especially
in northeastern Utah. Dwarf mistletoe infection
represents the most significant disease in
lodgepole pine and infects over 50 percent of all
stands. This disease has caused enough mortality
in some stands that predictive fuel models have
changed from 8 to model 10 and downed fuel
loadings have increased from 5 - 10 tons/acre to
as high as 75 - 100 tons/acre. Large amounts of
standing dead trees are present posing significant
snag hazards to firefighters.
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  Wildfires can be very intense and
fast moving in these communities. Some
important points to be aware of are that the lowest
live fuel moisture contents of the year occur
immediately prior to bud break, some of the
largest fires have occurred at this time (early
June). In stands unaffected by insects, or diseases,
surface fuels seldom support much fire activity.
Overall stand flammability varies with age as
young and very old stands are the most
flammable, and immature to mature stands are
much less flammable. Stands affected by insects,
diseases, and fire suppression can have greatly
increased fuel loads, and exhibit all types of
crown fires, especially supported by the surface
fires, Reburning over previously burned surface
areas is a possibility and residue burnout of
downed fuels prolongs suppression activities.
Under conditions of high winds, fires can cover
large areas in short time periods. Since lodgepole
pine is a fire dependent species, its presence and
appearance is an indication of past fire activity
and fire behavior.
h. Spruce-FirForests:
(1)   Description:  This fuel type occupiesarelatively
large area athigherelevationswithinthe Southern
Rocky Mountains. Teamactionfires occurhere
about5percentofthe total time and are difficult
andexpensiveto suppress. Thesehighelevation
communitiesare comprisedofEngelmannspruce
and SUbalpinefir, with some lodgepolepine
present. Surfacefuels can be minimalin open
grown stands, or very heavy, predominantlylarge
down tree stems, in closedcanopystands. Tree
limbs ofboth speciesoftrees usuallyare present
allthe way to the ground, posinggoodvertical
fuel continuity. Elevationsofthesecommunities
are 9,000- 12,500 feet, annualprecipitationis 15
- 25inches, and maximumtemperaturesrange
from 60 - 70 degrees.
The FlattopsWildernessAreaisuniquein that it
sufferedasprucebeetleepidemicabout40 years
ago resulting in extremelyhightree mortality.
The relativelyhigh elevationofthis area(10,000+
feet) has inhibitedtree decomposition, the present
forest is one ofregenerationcoupledwithlarge
quantitiesofstandingdeadtrees in the form of
large snags, andheavysurfacefuel loadings.
Fires.inthis area are extremelydifficultto
control, pose logisticalproblems,necessitate
wildernesscamps, and pose extremesafety
hazardsto firefighters who are on the line and in
(2)   Fire  Behavior:  Thesestands oftenburnin patchy,
spotty patternsbestdescribedashundredsofspot
fires. Regularline construction and burnout
efforts are ineffectiveon fires in this type.
Spreadis by torchingofindividualtrees or
groupsoftrees with spottinginto moreindividual
trees downwind. Retardantis seldomeffective.
Thesefires have the potentialto wearcrewsout
especiallyinlow relativehumiditysituationswith
the constanttorchingand spottinginto new fuels.
Heavy down fuels, deep duff layers, and dense
stands can make fire suppression a very laborious
process. The key to suppression in this type is
having crews limb up all trees with fire under
them, to remove the ladder fuels, stop the
torching, and spotting into new fuels. Once
spread is stopped, water from pumps, engines,
foldatanks, and bladder bags can be used to speed
up the mopup in deep duff and heavy downed
materials under the trees. In heavy bug-killed
areas, slash fuel models (12 - 13) are appropriate
for fire behavior predictions.
A. Strategy.
Since both the Great Basin and Southern Mountain areas contain a
full spectrum of resource values at risk, fuel types, and terrain
features, appropriate strategies utilized during suppression activities
will vary depending upon the specific set of conditions for a
particular incident. Control-contain-confine strategies will be
common between all agencies with objectives defining greater effort
in minimizing burned areas as values at risk increase.
Strategy will be set by the Escaped Fire Situation Analysis (EFSA),
Delegation of Authority, or other direction from the agency
administrator. Costs and environmental concerns will have the
major effect on strategy in the Great Basin and Southern Rocky
1. Direct Attack.
Generally speaking, on most fires within the Great Basin and
Southern Rocky Mountains lower elevation fire communities
(pinyon-juniper and northern desert shrub-sagebrush), direct
attack with handtools and engines can be effective. Direct
attack is also effective for higher elevational fuel types
depending on the fire intensity. Normally the flame length
and spread rates will allow close-in work with equipment.
Water and retardant can effectively stop the fire spread. If
rekindling occurs, it will happen over a short period of time
due to the light fuels. Most failures come from running out of
water prior to completing control line. Aerial retardant is
effectiveindirect attack for establishingline and also for tying
engine lines together. Foam units and single engineairtakers
dropping foam arebecoming more commonand are very
The direct attack method islimitedby the following:
• Ability to work close-into the fire (fire
intensity), size ofperimeter, and numberof
• Availabilityofwater.
• Terrain (maneuverability).
2. IndirectAttack.
Inlighterfuels, indirectattack and burning out are agood
approachin areas where resource values are low, and fire size
isn't amajor concern. Indirectattack also becomes an option
when direct attack islimitedas mentionedearlier.
Indirectattack isalsoused inhigherelevationfuel types to
stop the spread ofcrown fires.
When using anindirectattack, several factors must be
•   Natural barriers.
• Roads.
•   Burnedacreage.
• Timing - Can burnoutbe completedpriorto fire
spread reaching predeterminedline?
• Availabilityofresources for firing and holding.
• Methods availabletoprepareburnoutline.
Methods ofpreparingburnoutline that have
proven effectiveinclude:
• Wet line with immediateburnout.
• Engine appliedretardantor foam line.
• Airtankerapplied retardant line.
NOTE: Indirectlines have tobe fired out immediately.
availability determinesignitiondevice used.
Time iscritical. Ground andaerialbased ignitiondevices can
be highly effective. Terratorches mountedon four wheel
drive vehicles offer high utility while aerial devices including
thehelitorchandplastic sphere dispenserboth provide arapid
firing method.
Ground firing by hand is much slower but also effective.
3. ParallelAttack.
This type ofattackisused onmedium tolarge sizedfires at
higherelevations. Intensity ofthese fires frequently precludes
direct attacksoestablishmentofsound anchor points andwell
timedburnouts makesthismethod successful.
Again, thefull spectrum oftactics isavailable andwillbe
called into playinthis geographic area. Asresourcevalues at
risk increase, tactics willimplementamore aggressiveand
productivecapabilityof suppressionresources.
Common tacticalconsiderationsinclude:
• Nightoperations- canbehighly effective.
• Helicopterrappellingbecomingincreasingly
• Use of natural barriers/fireline location.
• Chemical retardantuseandlimitationsonuse.
• Burnout, aerial and ground ignition.
• Coyotetactics.
• Minimum Impact SuppressionTactics (MIST) -
should be standardprocedureon all wildfires but
willbe mandatoryin allwilderness areas.
• Minimum impact rehabilitationtechniques.
• Mopup standards.
• Helispotlocation andrehabilitation.
• Safetyconcerns/snagproblemareas/evacuation
B. SuppressionResources.
Enginesand handcrewsare the primarytools in the GreatBasinand
SouthernRockyMountains. Mostengines are fourwheeldriveand
rangeinsizefrom 100to 1,000gallonsincapacity. Foam and
retardantcapabilityisbecomingcommonon mostengines.
Handcrewsare the mostcommonresourceutilizedon extended
attackand team-actionwildfires. Use may be limitedin someareas
due to terrainbut handcrewscan be extremelyeffectivewhere
terrainlimitsothertechniques, Handcrewsrequiresubstantial
Bulldozeruse has decreasedin recentyears due to environmental
considerationsbutstill remainsaviabletool whenwarranted.
Shallowsoils and arid environments are difficultto rehabilitate.
Helicoptersare effectivefor reconnaissance, personnelmovement,
initial attacksupport, supplytransport, water, or chemicaldelivery.
Airtankeruse in the GreatBasinis moderate, airtankeruse in the
SouthernRockyMountainsis greateralthoughthe primaryuse in
bothareas is for initialattack. Thereare numerous airtankerbases
throughoutthis areawiththe capabilityfor operationofportable
refillbasesto supportlargefire suppressionactivities as needed. In
wilderness areas, helicopters will be criticallyimportantand large
air operationswill be common.
A. Snakes,Scorpions,andInsects. Rattlesnakesand scorpionscanbe
quitecommonthroughoutthis area. Specialsafetyinstructions
shouldbe providedto ensurepersonnelsafety. Yellowjackets,
hornets, wasps, ticks, and spiders (tarantulasand blackwidows)can
be encounteredalso.
B. Access. Generally, four wheeldrivevehicles can moveoverterrain.
Somerockoutcroppings, steep sidedgullies, cliffs, and underground
arroyospose specialhazards atnight. Loosesoil types and rockscan
Foottravelis difficult. Sprainedand brokenankles are possible.
Tall sage is difficultto movethrough. Rapidrates ofspreadand
suddenwindchangescreateneedsfor crewawareness, safetyzones,
and escaperoutes.
c.   Fuel Models. Astypical offuelmodels describedin "History of
FatalitiesandNearMisses," lightflashy fuels have causedmore
fatalities than anyother fuel models. Avoid complacency, allfuel
models supportfire, and fire is dangerous.
D. Aviation. Highelevationsandhottemperaturesproducehigh density
altitudes. Most fire activity isat,orabove adensityaltitude of9,000
feet. Helicopterandfixed-wing performanceis reduced.
Military training routes andspecial useairspace(especiallywest
desert Utah, southern Idaho, and allofNevada).
Lack ofwatersources requires heavy watertendersupportifany
major tactical water show using aircraftis planned.
Retardantis ineffectivein wind-drivenfires.
E. Water. Due tohigh temperatures and direct exposureto sun, water
consumptionwill be abnormallyhigh. Uptotwo gallons ofwater
per person, per operationalperiod, is often necessary. This requires
special efforts toget crews tocarry enoughwater, itis agood idea
toalso make extra water availableon theline. Dehydrationisa
serious problemifadequatewater is not provided.
Potablewater must be obtainedfrom asafe source due to giardiain
many streams.
F. Vehicles. Becauseoftheaccessandthefueltype,build-upof
vegetationonthe undercarriageofvehicles often occurs.
Undercarriage fires are not uncommon, with fire being spreadover
aconsiderabledistance before the driver is aware ofaproblem.
Catalytic convertersalsopresentapotentialignitiondevice whenever
the vehicle istraveling across country.
G. Volunteers. Duetotheremotenessofareaswithin the Great Basin
and SouthernRocky Mountains, local ranchers and otherpartiesare
often onthe fire when fire suppressionpersonnelarrive. This can
presenta serious safety concern. Volunteers shouldbe releasedfrom
the fire or providedthe necessarypersonalprotectiveequipmentand
close supervision, asquickly aspossible.
H. Adverse Weather. Rapid changes oftemperaturefrom hot to very
cold, often with moisture (sometimes snow) can pose aserious
hypothermiathreat topersonnel. Planningshould includeplastic
sheeting tokeep crews and equipmentdry inthe case ofrain or
snow, fuel for warming fires, and a place where wet, cold
firefighters can be taken todry out and warm up.
Whenutilizingcamps, they shouldbe equippedearlyon with plenty
ofplasticsheetingandrationsincase badweathershouldprevent
resupplyby air, whichhappens frequently.
Ofparticularimportanceare chinookwinds. Thesewinds occur
when high pressuresystems setupwestofthe continentaldividein
the SouthernRocky Mountains. Inthis situation, winds pushup
againstthe mountainrange, crestit, and then traveleastward
downslope. Asthey travel downslope, they pickup speed, frequently
achievespeeds of80-100 mph atthebaseofthe foothills. These
winds can drive any fire downsloperegardless ofthe diurnal,
upslopewindpatterns, and slope interactions (OuzelFire, OldStage
Road Fire).
I. MedicalFacilities. Medicalfacilities arefew and far between,
evacuationsfor seriousinjuries will generallybe by air.
J. Snags. Insectanddiseasecausedtree mortalityhas created
significantsnag areas throughoutthe timberedareas ofthis
geographic area. Fire suppressionpersonnelshouldbe awareof
snag areas and take appropriateactionstominimizeexposureto
firefighters. Snag-relatedinjuries havebeenincreasing during
K. Terrain Features. Unique terrain features such as the majorriver
breaks(Salmon, and Snake) canpose specificproblems. In these
areas, steep slopes and dry fine fuels producevery fast moving fires.
Specialsafety considerationsare necessaryhere inthattacticsmay
havetobe modifiedin regardto crew placement, camplocation, and
crew movement. Use ofcoyotetacticscan be commonalso.
Numerousinstancesofshelterdeploymenthave occurredin these
riverbreakareas (Ship Island, Butte, and EagleBarFires).
A.  Topography 
Topography is the  greatest single factor  influencing fuel  types  in  the 
Southwest.  Elevations range  from  near  1,000 to  over  13,000  feet. 
Like  the  Peak  fire,  steep  mountain ranges  in  southern Arizona and 
New  Mexico  have  many  fires  which  bum from  bottom to  top  and  go 
through  many  fuel  types. 
In  addition,  aspect  plays  a bigger role  in fuel  types  and  in fire 
behavior in the  Southwest than  any other  area in the  United States. 
Fuel  types  frequently  change  on ridge  tops  and  in  drainage bottoms. 
At lower elevations,  south  and west  slopes  are  frequently  grass  or 
desert  shrub  while  north  and east  facing  slopes  can  be  pinyon-juniper 
or pinyon-juniper mixed  with  various  types  of brush.  Canyons may 
have  a mixture  of deciduous  trees,  conifers and  brush  in  the  bottoms. 
Mid elevations  may have pinyon-juniper on south  and west  slopes 
with ponderosa pine and oak on north  and east  slopes.  Canyons may 
be  a mixture  of ponderosa pine,  pinyon-juniper,  oak  and  brush. 
Upper  elevations often have ponderosa pine  and oak  on  south  and 
west facing  slopes and mixed  conifer and aspen  on north  and east 
slopes.  Canyons  may have  ponderosa pine  on drier  sites  with  mixed 
conifer across  the  drainage. 
Fire  behavior can  be  drastically different from  one  side  of a 
ridge/drainage to another due  to the  differences in  fuel  types  and 
moisture levels. 
Land  form  is  also  an important factor  as  fires  can  move  long 
distances  without  wind.  Slope  driven  fires  are  quite  common 
especially in lighter  fuel  types. 
The Mogollon Rim is the most  dominant geological/topographic 
feature  in  the  Southwest Region.  It  extends  from  Ashfork,  Arizona 
to Luna,  New Mexico.  It is a continuous uplift which  rises  2,000-
4,000  feet  above  the lower  elevations. 
The  base  of the  rim  is 6,000-7,000 feet  while  the  top  ranges  from 
8,000-10,500 feet.  Fuel  types  range  from  pinyon-juniper-oak and 
brush  to  mixed  conifer and  aspen. 
The  land  north  of the  Mogollon Rim  is referred to  as  the  "Colorado 
Plateau. "  The  Colorado  Plateau  loses  elevation from  the  Mogollon 
Rim  as it  spreads  to  the  north.  Fuel  types  go  from  spruce-fir to 
ponderosa pine  to  pinyon-juniper to  grasslands.  Land forms  are 
generally gentle  sloping  with  steep  drainages.  However,  there  are 
also large  volcanic  derived  mountains which  rise  above  the existing 
plateau.  These  have  their own fuel types based upon  elevation and 
The  southern part  of both  Arizona and  New  Mexico includes  steep 
rocky  terrain.  Southern Arizona has  unique  "sky islands"  which 
include all of the  Coronado National  Forest.  These  mountain ranges 
all begin  with  desert  fuels  at the base  and  end  with  mixed conifer, 
and/or spruce-fir at  elevations  over  9,000  feet. 
Southern New  Mexico  is similar except the  mountain ranges  are 
generally much  larger in  size. 
Fire  behavior predictions using  any  computer modeling  are  difficult 
because of the  ever changing topography and fuel  types.  Again  - it's 
a good  idea  to have  a local  fire  behavior specialist. 
B.  Weather 
1.  Precipitation: 
Weather is  another obvious  factor  influencing fire  behavior, 
with  topography or  elevation being  tied  to  precipitation kinds 
and  amounts.  Elevations of 7,000 feet  and  above  generally 
receive  in excess  of  100 inches  of snow  annually.  Elevations 
above  8,000 feet  generally  have  a snowpack of two  feet. 
Snowpack of six to seven feet  may be found  above  9,000  feet. 
Total  annual  precipitation ranges  from  4  inches in  the  lower 
deserts  to  20 inches  at 7,000  feet  to  35 inches  at  11,000 feet. 
2.  Winds 
Spring  begins  in late  March  at the lower elevations and  in 
April  at the  higher elevations.  Weather is  generally dry  and 
Daily winds above the Mogollon  Rim can average  a steady  20-
30 mph for many days at a time reducing  snow pack  and 
exposing  fuels to sun and wind.  High elevations in the 
southern  part  of both  Arizona and  New  Mexico  receive  similar 
Winds  can reach  50-70 mph  as spring  storms  move  across 
from  the  west.  Although  some  moisture is received,  the 
effects  are short-lived due to continued winds.  By the  end  of 
May most snow has melted except  at elevations above  10,000 
feet.  Fire during  these  periods  can move  significant distances 
in  short time frames  especially in ponderosa pine  above  the 
Mogollon  Rim. 
May and June  are the two driest  months  and those  in which 
most  large  fires  occur.  Winds  continue through May  but 
generally subside  in June.  Temperatures range  from  110 
degrees  or more  with  5% humidity in the  desert  to  90  degrees 
and  10 % humidity  at 7,000  feet.  Fire  behavior is  obviously 
extreme  during these conditions  which  makes  suppression 
efforts  difficult. 
In late June  or early July  the Bermuda High  sets up  off Florida 
and affects  much  of the nation's  weather.  This  high  creates a 
flow  of moisture  aloft from  the  Gulf of Mexico  and  into  the 
Southwest.  This moisture  mixed  with the daily  high 
temperatures  creates  the  summer thunderstorm and  monsoon 
season.  The Southwest has the highest  incidence of lightning 
caused fires in the United States. 
The lightning  season  starts out  as dry lightning storms  in late 
June in southern New Mexico  and Arizona and continues 
northwest across  the Southwest area during  the  next  two  to 
three  weeks.  The storms become  wetter  as the Bermuda High 
sets up.  Showers  are scattered  then become more  widespread. 
This rainy  season continues  through  July  and August.  Daily 
temperatures  are  still over  100 degrees  in  the  desert and  near 
90 degrees  above 7,000 feet.  Fires  in low  elevations  are  a 
problem  because  of lack of moisture  in fuels  even  though  RH 
is  higher. 
September and October can be  dry  and  windy.  During this 
time there  is an increase  in human-caused fires  due  to hunters. 
Night time temperatures  and RH keep  these  fires  to one  or two 
burning  periods. 
c. Fuel  Types 
The  Southwest has twelve fuel  types.  One  fire  can  involve many of 
these types.  The  six  problem fuel  types  for  firefighters  are: 
1.  Grass  Fuels 
Grass  fuels  are widespread in the Southwest and  consist of 
annual  grasses in the  lower elevations and  perennial grasses 
mainly in  the  higher,  more  humid,  elevations.  Although 
grasses are  mixed throughout all  the  fuel  types,  desert fuels 
are  part of this  fuel  type  and  rates  of spread are  significant due 
to typically low RH. 
It  takes  surprisingly  little  grass  cover for  ignition or  fire 
spread.  These fuels  are  very  flashy  and  combined with  a wind 
(especially from  a  thunderstorm)  can  result in  a fast  moving 
erratic  spread. 
Some grass  types  like  sacaton and bear grass  produce high 
intensity fires.  These fuels  react quickly to changes in  RH. 
Spread is obviously achieved by  wind and  also  by  slope.  Fire 
can  run  up  slopes  then  stop.  There is  little spotting. 
Sotols,  a succulent found  within the  desert plant community, 
are  a problem and  spread desert fires  quickly.  When sotol  are 
on  a slope  and  the  roots  bum through,  the  plant breaks loose 
and  rolls  downslope. 
These fuels  react  quickly to changes in RH.  Early in  the 
afternoon fire  can  move rapidly,  then  clouds buildup, 
humidity increases, and  burnouts cannot be  accomplished. 
Because of this  a fire  can  look  extremely placid but just a 
couple of hours  later as temperatures rise  and  RH  changes the 
fire  may  take  on  a  significantly different behavior. 
2.  Shrub/Brush 
The  fuels  include various  desert and brush species dominated 
by  manzanita,  several  species of oak  and  mountain mahogany. 
Grasses  are  important for  ignition and  spread in  this  fuel  type. 
However, absence of grass  has  little effect on  steep  slopes  or 
during  windy conditions. 
Fires  are  intense and  can  have  rapid rates  of spread.  Percent 
of dead  material plays  a large role  in  fire  spread. 
Green  fuel  moisture also  plays  a major role  in  spread.  Local 
fire  management officers  should  track  the  moisture content 
and  give  you criteria on critical thresholds by  species. 
Live  fuel  moisture is  a very  good  indicator of burning 
conditions in  the  chaparral fuels.  Where fuel  moisture reaches 
70  percent or less,  extreme burning conditions can  be 
The  location of this  fuel  in relation to  any  commercial timber 
land  is important.  Lack  of control of a fire  in  this  type  can 
result  in  a large  fire  in  ponderosa pine. 
Spotting  is not much  of a problem but  fire  intensity creates a 
rapid  spread.  Fires  typically  slow  or  even  stop  at  sharp  ridge 
3.  Pinyon-Juniper 
This type generally  falls between the ponderosa pine  and 
shrublbrush types.  However transition areas  can  have  a 
mixture  of brush  species  and/or  ponderosa pine. 
In pure  stands,  fire  is  not  much  of a problem as there  is 
typically little  ground  fuel  due  to  grazing and  soil  conditions. 
In  areas  where  stands  are dense,  fires  can  spread with  a good 
strong  wind.  Spotting  in Utah  or one-seed juniper stands  is 
common but  fire  spread  is  slow. 
Stands  with  an understory of brush,  grass,  or  down  fuels  can 
burn  intensively and move  rapidly.  Typically a wind  is  needed 
to  spread  the fire unless  the fire  is on  a steep  slope. 
Again  the location in relation to  the  commercial timber land is 
important as fire  can  spread  into  the pine  stands  easily. 
4.  Ponderosa Pine 
Ponderosa pine  is found  at elevations ranging  from  6,000  to 
9,000  feet  and  occurs  in all geographic  areas. 
Most  large  fires  needing  incident management teams  occur in 
this fuel type.  Most of the ponderosa pine  stands  have  been 
commercially harvested sometime within  the  last  century. 
Fire  behavior depends  on previous logging  activity,  resultant 
residual  slash,  stand  density,  quantity  of stories,  and  ground 
fuels including  associated shrub species. 
Fire  spread  can be extremely fast  especially with  wind. 
Crown  fires  are common but  generally  are  dependent on 
ground  or ladder fuels  to  sustain. 
Spotting  is  a large  contribution to  spread  and is  very  common 
up to  1/4 to  1/2 mile  ahead  of the fire. 
As a guide,  whenever  1000 hour  fuels  (dead  fuel  over  3 inches 
in  diameter)  reach  13% or lower,  we  can  expect critical 
burning  conditions  in this fuel  type. 
Across  an evenly  flat plateau,  fires  can become very  large  if 
wind driven  and spotting is active.  Ponderosa pine  is a 
valuable  resource  as it is  a highly  valued  commercial timber 
species  and a significant  portion  of recreation activity  occurs 
within  this type. 
5.  Mixed  Conifer 
This  type  includes  various  mixtures  of ponderosa pine, 
southwestern white  pine,  Douglas-fir,  white  fir,  and  Engelman 
and blue  spruce.  Generally  these  fuel  types  occur  above  8,000 
feet.  A large  percentage of mixed  conifer occurs  on  steep 
Some of these stands have been logged but others  have  not. 
Fuel loading  is significant  at 70 to  150 tons  per  acre.  Access  is 
limited  due to steep slopes and lack  of roads.  Fires  are intense 
and spotting can easily occur up to  1/2 mile. 
Although  historically  significant fires  have  not  occurred here 
(in relation  to ponderosa pine),  as stands  are being  logged and 
sites  are  dried  out  more  fires  will  occur.  Also,  recreation use 
of the  mixed  conifer  type is increasing which  will  increase 
human-caused fires. 
Many  large  fires  can occur  because of fires  escaping from  the 
ponderosa pine  zone. 
Where  unlogged,  most  stands  are very  dense  with total  canopy 
closure.  Mixed  conifer fires  are  difficult to  control due  to 
lack  of good  topographic  features. 
6.  Spruce-fir 
This fuel type, in the Southwest,  occurs  only  in locations  above 
9,500  feet.  Fires  are rare  but  mentioned here  because they  are 
extremely difficult to  control.  They  typically  are  at the  top  of 
a mountain range  and  therefore  above  all the  other  fuels. 
Access isextremelylimited. Fuel loadingisheavyand
spotting is severe. Onlarge fires, becauseofthe steep
topography, fuel loadingand access problems, controllines
will generallybe outsidethis fuel type.
A. Directattack asastrategy works wellintheSouthwestespecially
when fires are small. Ifafire is large, anumberofitems needto be
consideredbeforedeciding on strategy; topography, fire behavior
and intensity, rate ofspread, availabilityofneededresources,
logisticsin moving and supplyingfirefighters and ofcourse,
B. Indirectattack isalsoused, especiallyinlowerelevationfuel types.
Acreageis often sacrificedfor lowersuppressioncosts and higher
probabilitiesofsuccess. Directattackon afast movingdesertor
brushfire is seldomsuccessful. Using naturalbarriers and roads
when burningout isvery commonbelow the MogollonRim. Dozer
use below the Rim islimitedfor environmentalreasons. Dozer
tracks stay foreverin the desert. Disturbingthe soil createserosion
problems during intensethunderstormactivities.
C. Parallelattack withburnoutisalsoused with successon winddriven
ponderosapine fires. Flankinguntil wind quits then cuttingoffthe
head isfrequently used.
On most large fires acombinationofdirect, indirect, and parallel
may be used. Again much isdependenton line officerdirection,
EFSA, availableresourcesandteam philosophy.
Safetyas the first standardfire orderis above all else. No strategy
ortactics should beconsideredifit sacrificessafety. Safetyshould
be includedin allplanning.
D. DevelopingTactics
First, topographic features are ofgreatimportancein determining
line location. Remember, that fuel type changesatridge tops and
drainagebottoms. Becauseofthis, especiallybelowthe Mogollon
Rim, these fires typicallyhave atendencytorun toridges and quit
or slow down. This is extremely importantto rememberin indirect
attack situation. Midslopelines seldomwork inthe Southwest.
Natural barriers can  be  used to  a great extent and  can  save  many 
hours/days of line  building.  Natural barriers have been used as 
control lines,  burnouts accomplished from  the  air,  and  the  next day  a 
small task group assigned to  pick up  slop-overs. 
Burnouts are  a must in  the  Southwest.  A line  not  burned out is 
almost worthless.  In  parallel and  indirect attack bring fire  with you 
even without lines  being tied  in.  Unless indirect line is  quite distant, 
the  line  can  easily be  out-flanked by  a fast  moving fire.  Don't wait 
for  "perfect"  burning conditions.  However,  burning in  the  middle of 
the  afternoon can  be  disastrous.  Burnouts are  very  successful at 
night as long  as RH  stays  low  (although not  to where spotting 
occurs),  But again,  if that's  the  best condition you  have,  then  do  it! 
Early morning burnouts before the  heat of the  day  are  not very 
successful.  All  night operations are  generally successful and  should 
be  utilized. 
Burnouts can  be  accomplished by  hand (drip  torch,  very  pistol,  fusee 
or  pen flare),  Terra-torch or  similar home-built  equipment,  and  by 
air  with ping-pong  machine  or  flying  drip  torch. 
Length of line  constructed is  much more important than the  width or 
quality of line.  When burning out,  especially with crews on  the 
scene,  holding is  fairly  easy.  Fires  typically move too  fast  for  any 
slow  line  construction techniques. 
Because of lack of ground fuels  some  chaparral brush country is 
difficult to  ignite especially from  the  air.  If unsuccessful, burning 
out may  need to  be  done  under windier,  lower RH  or  higher 
temperature  conditions. 
Burning periods in  the  Southwest occur between  10 a.m.  and  4  p.m. 
Depending on  wind,  temperature,  RH  and  live  fuel  moistures,  fires 
can  bum actively 24 hours  a day.  Shift changes can and  should be 
adjusted to  insure crew  movement is  not  taking place during critical 
burning  periods. 
Since these conditions prevail, especially in the  desert country, many 
years  ago  "coyote"  tactics were  developed. 
The  coyote tactics consist of a progressive line  construction 
technique involving self-sufficient crews who  build fireline  until the 
end of an  operational period,  remain overnight at/near that point, 
and  then  begin again on  the  next operational period. 
Crews  should  be  properly equipped and be  prepared to  spend  several 
operational periods  on  the  line  with  minimal  support from  the 
incident base. 
Camps  are standard and  should be used.  They  can be  supplied by  air 
and  crews  moved  by  air to camps.  Crew  movement should be kept 
to  a minimum to  reduce  exposure to  air  and  road  travel. 
Mopup  is critical  in ponderosa pine  and mixed  conifer stands. 
Desert fires  require  little,  but  cold  trailing  is  effective.  Where cold 
trailing is used  it must  be  watched or  patrolled. 
Immediate rehabilitation of control  lines  is  necessary.  Most  moisture 
occurs  as intensive  thundershowers and  soil movement is rapid  and 
immediate.  Unless  otherwise directed,  most  Southwest type  I and  II 
crews  place  water  bars  as firelines  are  constructed. 
Archeological  sites,  both  prehistoric  and  historic,  are  everywhere 
across the Southwest.  Special precautions or changes in tactics  may 
be  needed  to protect them. 
Threatened and endangered species  include  birds  (Mexican spotted 
owl,  Goshawk),  animals  (Mt.  Graham  squirrel),  fish  (Apache  Trout, 
Gila  Trout,  spinedace,  loach  minnow),  and  plants  (Arizona willow, 
Mogollon paintbrush, various  cactus).  Almost any  drainage with 
permanent water  has  some threatened or endangered species 
associated with it.  Make  sure you  get  this  information and  receive 
direction on guidelines  and  protection. 
With  few  exceptions (National  Park  Service)  all lands  within the 
Southwest are grazed  by either  cattle  or  sheep.  Tactics using 
overgrazed areas  as  anchor  points  or  locations  for  control  are 
Be aware of livestock location when locating  camps  and when 
burning out.  Fence  locations are  also  important to know.  If a fence 
is  cut,  notify  local  authorities. 
Make  agreements with  local  land  owners,  agency  representatives, 
and/or permittees  before  using  stock  water for  firefighting 
Location and  amount  of slash is important in determining tactics. 
Protection of reforestation areas  will  be  needed. 
III. Suppression resources within the Southwest and their effectiveness.
A. Engines
Numbers of engines are limited. All units have a few which range
from Model 208 to Model 708,718 and 468. There are few four-
wheel drive models. You will find that most units want their engines
returned to the home unit for initial attack. You will not receive a
large number of engines from within region if requested. Then
again you may not need many. Time should be allowed to receive
engines from other geographic areas.
Engines are very effective on large fires for holding line and mopup
B. Dozers
These are even more limited. Most units have one or two small (JD
350/450) dozers. However, again, pressure will be applied to return
these to home units for initial attack. Dozers and log skidders are
extremely useful in ponderosa pine and mixed conifer fuel types.
Dozers can be used in lower elevations but are restricted by rock,
steep slopes, and environmental concerns.
c.  Helicopters
Helicopters are effective for crew movement, spike camp and line
supply, bucket work, and aerial ignition for burnouts.
Bucket work is restricted by lack of water. Effectiveness is affected
by turnaround time.
The biggest restriction in the Southwest when utilizing helicopters is
density altitude, With high temperatures and high elevations,
payloads are extremely limited. When ordering helicopters be sure
and describe the type of performance you require based on the
altitudes you are working in or you will receive something which
can't be used.
D. Airtankers
There are 11 airtankers assigned to the Southwest. As with
helicopters, turnaround times are important in their effectiveness.
They can be used in light fuels (desert) as initial attack without crew
support and are effective.
In ponderosa pine and mixed  conifer  they  are also  effective if wind 
conditions are low.  Airtankers  are  not  useful  in  stopping crown  fire 
at their  heads  but are typically  used in flanking  action.  They  are 
effective in reducing  behavior for hand  crew  action  and  holding  a 
fire  until  crews  can  arrive. 
Airtanker drops  without  retardant (water  only)  have  been  used  in 
cases  where aesthetics  are important. 
Late  afternoon  airtanker or helicopter work  can  be  successful in 
suppressing  fires  without ground  support  in light  fuels. 
E.  Type  1 Crews 
There  are  18 Type  1 crews  within  the Southwest area.  Depending 
upon  the  regional  fire  situation  crews  will  arrive  from  a couple of 
hours  to  12 hours  after  ordering. 
F.  Type  2 Crews 
Through  an agreement with  SWIFF  (Southwest Indian  Fire  Fighters) 
78  crews  are available  for dispatch.  Typically,  they  can  be  on the 
scene  a few  hours  to  12 to  18 hours  after  ordering.  Most  are 
extremely good  and can be used on hot line.  Others  cannot.  You 
must judge. 
G.  Saws/Saw Teams 
Saws and saw teams should be ordered  with Type  2 crews.  Few 
Type  2 crews include  individuals  who  are qualified.  Saws  are a must 
for  brush  as  well  as for  timberland. 
Regular  crews  will  carry  their  own  saws but  since  you  probably will 
be in the Southwest  during  a multiple fire  situation  most employees 
will  have  already been  assigned  to other  fires. 
Contract sawyers  are limited. 
A.  Safety 
Southwestern fires can be suffocatingly hot, have  steep rocky  slopes, 
cactus,  snakes, tarantulas  and  scorpions.  Everything either bites, 
stings,  pokes  or scratches. 
All of these can result in medical emergencies and medivacs. The
lack of roads and long distances to medical facilities requires special
attention to medivac plans. We try to have line qualified EMTs on
each division.
Temperatures in the desert frequently are above 110 degrees.
Dehydration is a problem. Each crew member needs a minimum of
two gallons of water daily.
Differences in daytime and nighttime temperatures can be dramatic
and can cause various medical afflictions. Working all day in heat
and moving to higher elevations where it is cooler can affect a
person's health. Getting wet with a brief afternoon shower can also
be a problem. Nighttime temperatures in the desert can be very
Situations can occur where you can have cases of heat stroke and
hypothermia during the same day and on the same piece of line.
Open water should not be used for drinking as giardia is common in
all Southwestern streams and lakes. Plan on supplying all potable
Density altitude was discussed earlier. It is important not just in
crew and cargo movement but also in medivac helicopters. Be sure
your selected medivac helicopter has sufficient payload.
Air attack is the eyes and ears of ground forces. It is extremely
helpful in monitoring quickly changing fire behavior situations. It
is good to keep an aircraft over the fire from daylight to dark if
possible. However, do not depend on them for total information.
They are just another "tool" and do not replace on-the-ground
lookouts. If you depend upon aerial observations alone and the
aircraft must return to base due to mechanical problems or sickness
then you would be out of luck.
B. Functional Considerations
1. Fire Behavior
Fire activity may not decrease at night due to lack of RH
Fire behavior during daytime hours, especially at lower
elevations, is extreme and intense. Expect very large fires.
2.  Sotols 
A Sotol is a yucca  which,  when burned, develops the  shape of 
a basketball.  It will  roll  downslope  spreading fire.  "Rock the 
Sotols."  They  are  dangerous to  firefighters.  Mid-slope lines 
are  ineffective. 
3.  Logistics 
Roads  are few  and those  that exist are bad.  Reduce exposure 
to road  travel.  Use  camps  but  also keep  helicopter flights  at a 
Overall travel  for  suppression and  support activities is  slow. 
Understand this  in developing strategy and  tactics. 
4.  Urban  Interface 
Communities are being  built in wildland fuels  allover in  the 
West.  Access  in and out of these  communities is almost always 
limited.  In addition  to these communities, the  Southwest has 
hundreds,  if not  thousands,  of isolated homes,  summer cabins, 
mining  cabins,  ranch  houses  and  other structures  scattered 
Coordination with  local  agencies,  homeowner groups,  and 
others  knowing roads  and  structure locations is  extremely 
A.  Forest Types - There are 11  major forest types in the area. The
most common isoak-hickory(FireBehaviorFuel Models 8and 9)
whichisfoundinall20states. Thisdiscussionwillinclude
spruce/fir(FireBehaviorFuel Models 4 and 10)ofNew England
and NorthernMinnesota, thepine barrens ofNew Jersey, (Fire
BehaviorFuel Model 4) thejackpine/redpine (Fire BehaviorFuel
Model 6)areasoftheLakeStates,andthepeat/muckfuels found in
thenortheast andelsewhere intheUS. Some oftheothers which
playamajor role in anormal fire season arecommonto the
Southeastareaandwillbediscussed there.
B.  Topography- TheNortheastAreaisthe same asthe USFS's Eastern
Region. Itisa20staterectangle withthe "4M"comers- Minnesota
toMaine toMarylandtoMissouri. Itisrelativelyflat with
elevations ranging from sealevelto6,288feet above sealevel.
While localtopography maycause someconcerns, theoverall impact
isnotsignificant exceptinthemountainous areas intheNew England
andmid-Atlantic States.
c.   Weather- Thefireweather seasonintheNortheastusually lasts
from March through November. It is characterizedby a spring fire
season that startsinthe southernpart ofthearea and moves
northward. Bymid-June themajor periodhas passedand there will
usually be alull until early or mid-Septemberwhen the fall fire
seasonbegins. How soonthisareagetsfrost andthematuringofthe
fine fuels andhardwoodleaves willdetermine when the major fire
activitybegins. Theseasonmoves slowly southwardandwillusually
end in mid-Novemberinmost ofthe area. Althoughextreme fire
behaviorand severe fires areexperiencedinthe fall, the chances are
lessenedby the shorter, cooler days, nightly frost, and limiteddrying
periods. Unlessithasbeen anunusually dry summerandfall the
only seriousproblems will occurwith theweathersystem knownas
"Indian summer." This isaperiod oftwotofive days when a
stagnant, dryhigh pressuresystem isin the area. Temperatures in
the 80'sarenot uncommon; relative humidities will drop to the
middle orlowteens, andthewinds will usually blow from a
southerly direction. Speeds may vary from 3to 13miles per hour
withgusts upto 18- 25being common.
Some other characteristicsofthis pattern arelimitedrelative
humidityrecovery atnight; minor nighttimetemperaturechanges;
continuous winds, even afterdark; andveryhazy conditionswhich
reduce visibility totwomiles orless.
Fourofthesixsynopticweathertypes, allassociatedwithhigh
pressure systems andperiods ofcritical forest fire weatherin the
United States, arefound inthe NortheastArea. They are:
1.   Pacific High 
a. Losesmoisture crossing theRocky Mountains; arrives in
the Northeast asadrycontinentalairmass. Usually
about threedaysfrom the time itcrosses into the
ContinentalU.S. before it arrives.
b. More numerous than anyother type of system.
c. Oftentracks southeast across thebottomofthe region.
CangivetheSoutheast moreproblems thanthe
d. Ifthe precedingcold front is dry, high fire danger
occurs inthe postfrontal area.
e. Thewestern ornorthwesternside isusually the most
dangerous sideofthesystem.
2.   Northwestern Canadian High 
a. Isdrytobegin withbecauseit originatesoverland.
b. Allsidescanbedangerous, butthe north andnorthwest
sidesarethemost critical.
3.   Hudson Bay High 
a. TendstostagnateintheHudsonBayarea.
b. MovessouthintotheUnited States soitpassesright over
c. Thegreatest danger usually occurs on the Northwest
d. Thelonger the system iswith you, the more the
visibility deteriorates. Can get aslow astwo miles or
e. Most frequent inthe spring andfall.
f. This isthe system that will tear you apart beforeyou
knowwhathashappened. Itbegins asacoolCanadian
HighwhichformsoverHudson Bayiceandmoves
south. Itpicks upvery little moistureover Canadaand
warms through subsidence. The humiditieswill drop
(10percentorless in extremecases), temperatures go
upandwindsbecome gusty. Nighttimetemperatures
mayvary asmuch as40degrees. Humiditymightnot
recover. Tendencyto stagnate for days. Visibilitygoes
topieces. Atheight maybeonemile. Isahaze. When
itbegins tomove, winds will shift from EtoS-SW-W.
Tendencytofishtail. Signthat system ismoving! Lake
States' forecasters areexperiencedwith this weather
pattern andwill advise you ofit.
4.   Bermuda High 
a. Longlasting andstagnant typeofsystem.
b. Frequentin spring, early summerand fall.
c. Quiteoftenextends into Texas toblocktheflow of
moisture from the Gulfof Mexico. Type ofsystem
saidtocause alotofthedrought type conditionsthat
existed in the NEinthe spring and early summerof
d. Lowhumidities andhigh temperaturescommonwith
e. The worst winds for fires occurwhen low pressure
troughs passbyastagnant BermudaHigh onits north
AddtheAlbertaLowtothislistasacatalyst, especiallywhen
itfollows ontheheels oftheoneofthehighsjustlisted. This
type ofsystem canprompt adrylightningsituationalong with
highwinds. Itwasthiscombinationwhich moved across a
very narrow band ofnorthernMinnesota, Wisconsin, and
Upper MichiganonMay 6, 1986,with surface winds of50 -
60mph. During itspassage aUSFS prescribedbumescaped
mopup for 1,000 acres, amajor forest fire of8,000 acres
threatenedanairforce base onMichigan's UpperPeninsula,
and 80powerline fires were started in athree countyarea of
Inadditiontothesystemsmentioned,theAtlanticCoast can
haveoccasional highfire danger associated withtropical
stormswhenthewindyareareaches beyondthe wind and
D. Strategy.
Afull control strategy using direct orflanking attack is the most
common. These strategies aredriven by two major factors:
1. Federal land ownership is avery minor part ofthe total
landscape, and,insomeinstances mayevenbeaminor partof
the holdings within theboundaryofthe property. Atthe same
time the number ofqualifiedfire personnel and the fire
equipmentonthefederal properties islimitedtonon-existent.
Several of the states protectthe federal propertyunder
2. Time isthe second major factor. Almost all projectfires will
completetheir run during the first day ofthe bum. They may
bumthrough thenight, butby morning ofthe second day they
control bythelocal agency, oracombinationofthe two.
Theexceptions maybefoundinthenational parks, suchas
Voyagers andIsleRoyal, andintheUSFS's BoundaryWater
Canoe Area innorthern Minnesotawhere indirectattack or a
confinementstrategy maybeused inareas oflarge federal
ownership tomeetagencyspecificlandmanagement
E. Tactics.
1. Tactics willusuallyinvolvetheuseofmechanizedline
constructionby tractor and plow or dozer units reinforcedby
hand toolcrews.
2. In someparts oftheNortheastwater lines or variations
involving theuse offoam andwater will bethe primary tactic
forsuppression. Handtools suchasthebackpackpumps, fire
rake, shovel, McLeod tool andfire swats are standard
equipmentforfire agencies ofalltypes.
3. Volunteerfire departments are a majorresourceusedby many
ofthe states and some federal agencies. Dependinguponthe
particulararea, theirwildlandcapabilities will vary from a
few structuralenginesthat will not leaveahardsurfacedroad
tothosethat have highlyspecializedwildfireequipment.
4. Limiteduse ismadeofaerialsuppressionequipment.
Helicopterswith foam injectionbuckets,agencyownedor
contractedaerialtankers and singleengineair tankers
(S.E.A.T.) are used in Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New
Jersey, Pennsylvania,and Wisconsin. Federaland state
agenciesmay share equipmentunder"Call WhenNeeded"
contracts. InMinnesota,the state and USFS use a smallfleet
offloat equippedBeaveraircraftfor suppression, detection,
and transportation. Extensiveuse ismadeofstate owned
aircraftfor detection and directionofgroundforces on going
incidents. Densityaltitudeis not usuallyaproblemfor
aircraftoperations in the northeast.
F. SpecialConsiderations.
1. Safety
Checkwith yourlocalresourceadvisorfor specifics, butsome
specialsafetyproblemsyou may encounterare:
a. BlackBears- Most likelyto encounterthemin northern
Minnesota, northernWisconsin, and northernMichigan.
Usuallywill leaveyou alone, but in adroughtyearwhen
there is an absenceofnaturalfood, suchas berries, they
will raid camps in search offood. Properstorageof
openfood, fresh meats, vegetables, and garbagewill
usuallypreventa visitby this critter.
b. Snakes- Cottonmouthwatermoccasins, copperheads,
and rattlesnakes are the three varietiesofpoisonous
snakesfound inthe Northeast. The moccasinsare
usuallyfound in southernIllinois, Indiana, Ohio,
Missouri, and WestVirginia. Copperheads are found in
the same states aswell asPennsylvania. Rattlesnakesare
Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois,Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
New York, WestVirginia, and Missouri.
c.   Diseases - Lyme disease is not fatal,  but  is a serious 
concern because of the delayed appearance and  the  side 
effects.  It is tick  borne.  Rabies  can  be  a local  problem 
in  some  areas.  Giardia,  or  beaver fever  is  present in 
many  of the  waters  of the  northeast. 
d.   Miscellaneous Hazards  - Poison ivy and poison sumac 
are  common.  In  some  areas  they  can  be  a major 
problem.  Abandoned mine  shafts,  tunnels,  caves, 
quarries,  open  pit  mines,  and  exploration holes  are 
present in some areas.  Many  of these  also  serve  as dens 
for poisonous  snakes. 
Unique Fire  Situations. 
Maine - Maine is the most  forested  state,  on a per  acre  basis,  of any  state  in 
the  United states.  It also has the least  public  land  ownership of any  state  -
less  than  2 percent.  It  has  a state  fire  control organization which  is directly 
or  indirectly responsible for  all  forest  fire  protection in  the  state.  Over 50 
percent of its  forest  lands  are  spruce-fir type.  Fire  Behavior Models 4  &
10 best represent this  fuel  type.  Maine has  the  most  lightning fires  of any 
state  in the  northeast. 
New  Jersey - Within 35 miles  of New  York  City  and  Philadelphia rests  1.2 
million acres  of forest  area  known as  the  New  Jersey Pine Barrens.  It  is 
composed of highly flammable pine  types  that  have  a long  history of fire. 
Fire  Behavior Model  4  is  used  for  this  fuel.  Fires  in  this  area  occur with 
regular frequency  and  cause  major damage,  loss  of property and,  in  some 
instances, loss  of life.  An aggressive, direct attack  with  the  occasional use 
of backfires is the  tactic  recommended here. 
Pennsylvania - Primary forest  type  for  the  Keystone State is Oak-Hickory. 
Use  Fire  Behavior Models  8 and  9.  Over  one  million acres  of 
Pennsylvania wild  land suffered mortality from  the  oak  leaf roller.  In 
addition, it has been severely damaged by  the  gypsy  moth.  The  topography 
of Pennsylvania is  some  of the  more  rugged in  the  Northeast area.  The 
encroachment of second homes  into  this  area  has  added  problems to their 
suppression efforts.  Tactics  in  this  fuel  are  aggressive,  direct attack,  use 
topography  and  natural barriers  and  burn out  lines  once  they  are 
A.   Lake  States  Area. 
1.   Lake  States area consists  of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and 
2. Approximately70 million acres ofpotentialwildfireland.
3. Influencedby four ofthe Great Lakes - Superior, Michigan,
Huron, and Erie.
4. Topography.
a. From flat to somewhathilly.
b. Elevationfrom 500 to 2,300 feet.
c. Slope - generally not aproblemin fire control.
5. ClimateandWeather.
a. Four seasons.
b. Precipitation- 28to 32inches.
c. Winds - prevailing southwesttowest.
6. Fire Season andFire Conditions.
a. Normal fire season is April throughJune, with a'second
season from mid-Septemberto late Octoberor early
November. The crown fire season will usuallybeginin
mid-Aprilandendinlate Mayorearly June. Jackpine
seemstobemostsusceptibletocrowningwhen itis
pollinating. Droughtconditionswill extendthe crown
fire season into late summerand early fall.
b. Criticalweatherprecedingacrownfire will usuallybe:
(1) Winds from SWtoW at 8- 12gustingto 25;
(2) Temperatures of65 degrees or more. Above 75
degrees in spring orfall indicatepotential
(3) Humidity of30percentorless. Below 30percent
expecterratic fire behaviorand below 20 percent
look for things to explode;
(4) Fuel moistureof8percentor less in the IO-hour
sticks and 5percentorless in the I-hourreadings;
(5) Usually occurs during oronthe backside ofa
high pressure area.
B. Problem Fuels.
1. Pine fuels.
2. Muck andpeatfuels (spruce-bog).
C.   Jack  Pine. 
1.   Predominate  fuel. 
2.   Medium to heavy  density. 
3.   Contiguous arrangement of live  and  slash  fuel. 
4.   One  thing  to  remember about  surface  or  grass  fuels  is  that 
they  are  perennials and  do not  automatically brown off each 
summer.  They  will  recover from  drought with  some  rain,  and 
can  reduce  fire  spread  in many  instances.  On  the  other hand, 
they  will  tend  to  stay  green  during  dry  weather and  burn quite 
readily  if ignited. 
D.   Pine  Fire  Problem. 
The  major fire  problem is  a  crown fire  in  a jack pine  or  red  pine 
area.  These  are fast  burning fires  that  can  run  in excess of a mile 
per  hour and  be  all  done  in  one  day's  duration,  It  may  burn  up  to  15 
miles  during  this  period of time  with  spotting  1/4 mile  or  more  in 
advance of the  head.  Normal  fire  run  will  be  until  dark  or  change of 
fuel  type,  but  fires  have  been  known to  run  through the  night. 
E.   Crown  Fire  Strategy. 
Plan  for  a large  fire.  Under crown  fire  conditions  a fire  can  easily 
reach  1,000  acres  in  the  first  hour.  The  Mack Lake  Fire  of May  5, 
1980, had  a  sustained rate  of spread of 2  mph  the  first  three  hours. 
(176  feet  per  minute).  The  next  2  1/2 hours  it  dropped to  1.2 mph 
or  100 feet  per  minute.  It  burned 24,790  acres  in  one  afternoon. 
Individual runs  of 6 mph  or  528  feet  per  minute have  been reported. 
1.   Work  the  flanks.  Try  to  pinch  or  narrow  the  fire  at  every 
2.   If you  are  planning back fires,  allow  an  hour to  two  hours  to 
carry  them  out,  otherwise  spotting will  negate  your  efforts. 
3.   Plan  to control or reduce the  head  when: 
a.   You get a change  in fuel types. 
b.   You get a change  in weather conditions. 
c.   Usually  nightfall will  help  you. 
4.   Control confusion. 
5. Maintain awarenessofweatherconditions.
a. Prepare for turning action offire asfront passes.
b. Expect spottingtobeupto 1/2mileahead ofthemain
c. There are experiencedfire weatherforecasters in each
ofthethree states. They are familiar with the vagaries
oftheHudsonBayhigh,aswellastheinfluence the
GreatLakeshaveonyourfires. USE THEM.
6. Remember, land ownership patterns here donot allow the
luxury of writing off large acres ofgovernmentland for back
fires or indirectattack. Private land patterns require an effort
toprotectevery acre ofland.
7. ResourceDeployment.
Most fires aredivided into divisions, and if structures are
involved, zones, earlyontofacilitate control ofthe
a. Asyou standattheorigin ofthe fire and look toward
personnel is 1/4totheleft flank, 1/2tothe right flank,
and 1/4floatingwiththeheadtotake advantage ofany
changes in fuel type, natural barriers, or otherevents
whichwillhelpnarrowthehead. This tactic isused
because inalmost allcasesthefire willbemoving from
southwesttonortheast andwillbedriven by awind that
willbechanging tothenorthwest asthefrontal system
b. Manyofthelocalagencieswillhavedesignatedpre-
plannedzonestohandle interface activities. These will
be assigned tothe structuralforce under the controlof
an experiencedstructural fire person. A guidelinefor
planning andassignment isone structural engine for
each structure tobe protectedfor one hour.
Needless  to say there will have  to be a hard  decision 
made on what is going to be defended and what  will be 
written  off because there  usually  will  not be  enough 
equipment available  to go around! 
10.   Fire  control  tactics  are based  on  a highly  mechanized fire 
control force  backed up by personnel,  especially in  mopup. 
Air  tankers  and helicopters  are usually  not  available for  the 
first  day.  In  some instances  they might  not be  available at all. 
11.   Use  equipment effectively,  do  not  waste  tractor-plow  effort. 
Do  not underestimate the capability. 
12.   If fire  runs  into  the  night: 
a.   Increase  aggressiveness - attempt  to control  as soon  as 
b.   Complete line to secure. 
c.   Do  not  wait for  next  day.  (Equipment should  be 
equipped for  night  use.) 
d.   Begin  mopup. 
F.   Equipment Assignment - Fireline  Tactics. 
1.   Tractor-plow  Unit. 
a.   Will  construct line  at various  rates,  depending on  cover 
and  fire  behavior.  Blade  is  not  for  line  construction but 
to  clear  slash  and debris  for  line  building. 
b.   Tractor-plows  should be  assigned in tandem if available 
and should build  line  as close  as safety  will  allow.  Burn 
out  line  behind tractor-plow.  Use  caution - be  prepared 
to  yield  to  fire. 
No  UNBROKEN LINE  behind tractor-plows,  PATROL 
must  be  maintained.  Aircraft surveillance can  be 
utilized but hand  tool crews  are best.  Maintain constant 
availability of communications. 
Fire  is moving  at a relatively fast  rate  - do  not lose 
control of equipment. 
c.   Line  placement should utilize  all natural  openings, 
skidways,  hardwood ridges,  or  other breaks.  Do  not 
depend  on roads  to  stop  a crown  fire. 
d. Line placementinto plantationsrequires extremecaution
and operatorsmust have aplannedescaperoute,
crown fire behavior.
e. Line placementapproachingthe headoffire on the right
flank must be done with extremecaution. Tractor-plow
operatormay becomeinvolvedwith spotfires and
Explosivefire conditions- rapidswingsofthe fire flank
are to be expected. Tractor-plowline constructionrates
for 450 and 350 class tractors allow tractors to overtake
fire head.
Activelydevelop and improvetractor-plow line ofright
flank. BE PREPAREDto yieldiffrontal actionturns
fire. All equipmentmust beginworkingfire in new
2. VolunteerFire Departments.
Maintaincontactwith theirequipment. Do not allowthe
resources to be wasted. Structuralfire protectionis theirkey
responsibility; however, ifafavorable conditionis reached,
allowing for a standon aroad, hardwood area, etc., the fire
departmenttankercapabilitycan be utilizedfor pre-wetting
and line holding. Many will have extensivewildfire
experience- but make certainoflevelsofexperience.
G. Modificationin CrownFire Strategyand Tactics.
Michigan- Usesamebasicstrategiesandtechniques. Some
equipmentisthe same, such asthe JD-450unit, butalso use rubber
tired skidderswithplowers, armored6x6 tankers with a plow and
armored6x6 tankers to buildand holdline. Engines follow tractor-
plow units, they do not lead it.
Minnesota- Aircraftused in controloffires. Retardantis usedon
flanks, primarilyto slow the fire spreadin orderto allow line
constructionequipmentto control fire flank. Retardant drops are
not usedatthe head ofarunningjackpine crownfire. (May be rare
exceptions). Basicfire control strategy and tactics are similarto
C.   Construction of Firelines. 
1.   Lines  must  be  constructed to mineral  soil  or below water 
2.   Care  must  be  used  in constructing lines  with  tractor-plows  or 
bulldozers when  working  over  peat  or  muck.  You  will 
probably  be only  able to make  one pass.  After vegetation and 
material  supporting  the  tractor has  been  disturbed,  any  further 
action  may result  in getting  the  unit  stuck.  Wide  tracks  (36+ 
pads)  are  available from  private  sources  for  hire. 
3.   Lines  constructed through  peat  or muck  that  do  not  reach 
mineral  soil or the water  table  should  not  be  depended on  to 
hold  the  fire.  They  will  normally  restrict  the  fire  for  24 
hours.  After  that,  either new  lines  must  be  constructed or 
plow lines  wet down. 
4.   When  constructing lines  through  peat  or  muck,  do  not  push 
material  onto  the  fire  side.  To  do  so will  result in  a difficult 
and costly  suppression problem. 
5.   Equipment used in line  construction. 
a.   Plowing. 
b.   Bulldozing. 
c.   Hand crews. 
d.   Line  to mineral  soil - shallow  peat. 
e.   Trenching, backhoes,  etc. 
f.   Blasting. 
g.   Drag  line,  etc. 
D.   Suppression of Muck  and Peat  Fires. 
1.   Suppression of muck  and peat  fires  using  water. 
Water -- The use of water  is effective, when  available in  an 
unlimited supply,  or at least  sufficient to meet  suppression 
a.   Effective on  large  fires  or  where  dense  surface fuels  are 
May be necessary  to pump  long distance. 
b.   Requires  manpower and equipment to  set up  and 
(7) Aspen - scrub oak.
b. Sizeofareainvolved.
c. Depth andconditionofmuck orpeat (affects surface
fire control).
(1) Accessibility.
(2) Watertable.
(3) Ability to supportequipment(flotation).
(4) Availabilityofwatersource.
(5) Amountand conditionofgroundfire.
d. Values threatened.
(1) Farmland.
(2) Highways.
(3) Homes,subdivision,
(4) Other.
2. Attack Plan.
a. Indirect.
b. Direct.
c. Combinationofboth.
Inmostcases theattackplan willconsistofboth directand
indirectattack onportions ofthe line.
3. Plan tocontrol fire spread asquickly aspossible.
a. Donotintentionallyallow seeminglysafe areas toburn
when peat ormuck isinvolvedwith a surfacefire. To
do somay require expensivemopup.
b. Plantosuppress surfacefire asquickly aspossibleand
mop upcompletely.
c. Determinehowlineconstructionistobe accomplished
d. Determineiffire may spreadinto adjacentfuels; e.g.,
Jack pine, spruce or otherproblemfuels (drought
condition-- will affectpersonnelandequipmentneeds
and strategy to control).
e. Determineiffire may becomeinvolvedwith high value
farm lands.
(7)   Aspen  - scrub  oak. 
b.   Size of area involved. 
c.   Depth  and condition of muck  or peat  (affects  surface 
fire  control). 
(1)   Accessibility. 
(2)   Water table. 
(3)   Ability  to  support equipment  (flotation). 
(4)   Availability of water  source. 
(5)   Amount  and  condition of ground fire. 
d.   Values  threatened. 
(1)   Farmland. 
(2)   Highways. 
(3)   Homes, subdivision. 
(4)   Other. 
2.   Attack  Plan. 
a.   Indirect. 
b.   Direct. 
c.   Combination of both. 
In most cases  the attack plan  will consist  of both  direct  and 
indirect attack  on  portions  of the  line. 
3.   Plan  to control  fire  spread  as quickly as possible. 
a.   Do not intentionally allow  seemingly safe  areas  to bum 
when  peat  or muck  is involved with  a surface  fire.  To 
do  so may require  expensive mopup. 
b.   Plan to suppress  surface  fire  as quickly as possible and 
mop up completely. 
c.   Determine how line construction is to be  accomplished 
and equipment and personnel needs. 
d.   Determine if fire  may  spread  into  adjacent fuels;  e.g., 
Jack  pine,  spruce  or  other problem fuels  (drought 
condition -- will  affect  personnel and  equipment needs 
and  strategy  to  control). 
e.   Determine if fire  may  become involved with  high  value 
farm  lands. 
C.   Construction of Firelines. 
1.   Lines  must  be  constructed to mineral  soil  or below  water 
2.   Care  must  be  used  in constructing lines  with  tractor-plows  or 
bulldozers  when  working  over  peat  or  muck.  You  will 
probably  be only  able to make  one pass.  After vegetation and 
material  supporting  the  tractor has  been  disturbed,  any  further 
action  may  result  in getting  the unit  stuck.  Wide  tracks  (36+ 
pads)  are  available  from  private  sources  for  hire. 
3.   Lines  constructed through  peat  or  muck  that  do  not  reach 
mineral  soil  or the water  table  should  not  be  depended on  to 
hold  the  fire.  They  will  normally  restrict  the  fire  for  24 
hours.  After  that,  either new  lines  must  be  constructed or 
plow lines wet down. 
4.   When  constructing lines  through  peat  or  muck,  do  not  push 
material onto  the  fire  side.  To  do  so will  result in  a difficult 
and costly  suppression problem. 
S.   Equipment used  in line  construction. 
a.   Plowing. 
b.   Bulldozing. 
c.   Hand crews. 
d.   Line  to mineral  soil - shallow  peat. 
e.   Trenching,  backhoes,  etc. 
f.   Blasting. 
g.   Drag  line,  etc. 
D.   Suppression of Muck  and Peat  Fires. 
1.   Suppression of muck  and peat  fires  using  water. 
Water -- The  use of water  is effective, when  available in  an 
unlimited supply,  or at least  sufficient to meet  suppression 
a.   Effective on  large  fires  or  where  dense  surface fuels  are 
May be necessary  to pump  long distance. 
b.   Requires  manpower and equipment to  set up  and 
d.   Line  placement into  plantations requires  extreme caution 
and operators  must  have  a planned escape route. 
Demands  highly  skilled  operators knowledgeable of 
crown  fire  behavior. 
e.   Line  placement approaching the  head  of fire  on  the  right 
flank  must  be  done  with  extreme caution.  Tractor-plow 
operator may  become  involved with  spot  fires  and 
developing head  of fire. 
Explosive fire  conditions - rapid  swings of the  fire  flank 
are  to  be  expected.  Tractor-plow  line  construction rates 
for  450  and  350  class  tractors  allow  tractors  to  overtake 
fire  head. 
Actively develop  and  improve  tractor-plow  line  of right 
flank.  BE  PREPARED to  yield  if frontal  action  turns 
fire.  All  equipment must  begin working fire  in  new 
2.   Volunteer Fire  Departments. 
Maintain contact with  their equipment.  Do  not  allow  the 
resources  to  be  wasted.  Structural fire  protection is  their key 
responsibility;  however,  if a favorable  condition is  reached, 
allowing  for  a  stand  on  a road,  hardwood  area,  etc.,  the  fire 
department tanker  capability can  be  utilized for  pre-wetting 
and line holding.  Many  will have  extensive wildfire 
experience - but  make  certain of levels  of experience. 
G.   Modification in Crown Fire  Strategy and  Tactics. 
Michigan - Use same basic strategies  and techniques.  Some 
equipment is the  same,  such as the JD-450 unit,  but  also  use  rubber 
tired  skidders  with  plowers,  armored 6x6  tankers  with  a plow  and 
armored 6x6  tankers  to  build and  hold  line.  Engines  follow  tractor-
plow  units,  they  do not lead  it. 
Minnesota - Aircraft  used  in control of fires.  Retardant is  used  on 
flanks,  primarily to  slow  the  fire  spread in  order to  allow  line 
construction equipment to  control  fire  flank.  Retardant drops  are 
not  used  at the  head  of a running jack pine  crown fire.  (May  be  rare 
exceptions).  Basic  fire  control  strategy  and  tactics  are  similar to 
Michigan  and Wisconsin. 
The  southeastern section of the  United States can  be  divided,  for  fire 
suppression purposes,  into  three geographical regions: 
•  Appalachian Mountains. 
•  Piedmont Plateau. 
•  Coastal Plains. 
Note  that there  are  other unique geographical regions  in  the  southeastern 
United States, such  as the  Everglade Swamp in  Florida and  the  Pocosins in 
North Carolina,  that  have unique problems. 
There are  two  separate fire  seasons in  all  the  geographical regions,  fall  and 
spring.  Fall fire  season usually begins in  October with leaf fall  and ends 
when the  winter rains  and  snow  begin in  December.  The spring fire  season 
usually begins around March  1 and  extends into  May when vegetation 
begins to  grow.  Spring fire  season is  characterized by  warm,  windy days 
and  cool  nights,  and  this  is  usually when the  most severe fires  occur. 
Each geographical region has  unique fire  suppression problems.  Four 
major factors  that  affect strategy and  tactics in  these regions  are: 
topography,  weather,  fuels,  and  the  degree of mechanization of fire 
suppression forces. 
Topography is  the  most important factor  affecting fire  behavior in 
mountainous regions but  is  a minor concern in  Piedmont and  Coastal 
Plains,  (where weather and  fuels  are  the  major elements  affecting fire 
In  the  flat  woods of the  coastal plains and  rolling topography in  the 
Piedmont the  key  word is  mechanization.  Dozers range in  size  from  a 
Type III  equipped with  a fire  plow  to  a Type I using a blade.  They can 
construct more fireline  in  a  given time than 25  to  100  line personnel. 
Crews to  patrol burnout and  backfire are  needed.  Some fires  with a  heavy 
tractor operation,  will  have  more  tractor personnel  than  firefighters. 
A. Wildlandfires inthe southeastquite often involve both public and
privateland. Further, the public land may be underthejurisdiction
ofmorethan onefederal agency aswell asastate agency.
Generally, theagency thatestablishes theoriginalincidentcommand
on fires involvingmore than one agency remains in controlofthat
fire. Most stateshave cooperativeagreementswith federal agencies
within their boundaries tothis effect. There are provisions inthese
cooperativeagreements allowing adifferentagency toassume
commandof afire that is burning withintheir jurisdictionor, more
often, toestablishajointcommand.
Incidentmanagementteams shouldbeaware ofanycooperative
agreementsineffect. The agreements spell out pay rates for
personnelandequipmentand areas ofresponsibility.
B. Most ofthelandareainthe southeastisownedbythe small private
landownerand forest industries. Generally speaking, state forestry
organizations are responsiblefor all fires burningon privateland.
In situations involvingindustrialforest lands, state and industrial
personnelcooperateclosely, but statepersonnelstillhave ultimate
responsibility. Youwill often seeforest industrypersonneland
equipmentworking understate directiononfires not on industry
C. Youshouldbe awareofabasic differenceinphilosophybetween
statefire organizationsandmostfederal agencies. State
organizationsare generally more cost conscious; theyjustdon't have
D. Most southeasternandsouthcentralcompactstateshave adoptedICS,
but their personnelareatdifferentstages ofacceptanceand
knowledge. When working with somestateagencies they may notbe
aware ofwho aline officerisand you will probablynot get an
EscapedFireSituation Analysis (ESFA). Incidentmanagement
teams may have towrite the delegationsofauthorityfor them. Help
them out, they may notbeup to standardin all areas, but work with
them. They can be avaluable resource.
E. Southeastfirefighting personnel maybe amixed bag indeed. While
few stateorganizationshandle allfire responsibilities, most depend
heavilyon volunteerfire departments, a system ofpart-timeforest
wardens, and pick up firefighters to supplementtheirforces.
F. Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP) - southeasthas more
excess property thantherestofthe United States put together.
• Aircraft.
• Large Engines.
• SmallEngines.
Equipmentrental agreements with volunteerfire departments using
FEPP cannot charge the federal governmentfor use ofthat property.
They can charge for equipmentthey have placedon the property
(i.e., tank, pump, etc.).
A. AppalachianMountains
TheAppalachianMountains region comprises approximately50
million acres offorest.
1. Fuels.
FuelModel 9- mixed upland hardwoods - pine; 10+tons per
acre; Fuel Model 7 - heavy laurel and rhododendronunder
upland hardwoods andpine; 15-20tons per acre.
Fuels inthemountain region consist ofupland hardwoods and
hardwoodlitter interspersedwith pine on the drier sites. Most
oftheupper slopeshave mountain laurel in the hardwoods.
Rhododendrongrows inthickets inthe more moist areas.
Ozark andOuachitamountains will nothave laurel or
2. Topography.
TheAppalachians varyinheight upto6,684 feet inelevation
(Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina). Land isoften steep and rocky
with large outcroppings ofgranite, sandstone, limestone, or
shale. Muchofthisareaisinaccessibleexcept byfoot. You
canbewithin afewmiles ofafire andhave totravel 15or 20
milestogettothebaseofthemountainonwhich thefire is
3.   Weather. 
During  winters  of light  snowfall  the  hardwood leaf litter and 
dead  herbaceous  material  are  more  fluffy  (not  packed by 
heavy  snowfall)  and fire  will  spread  at a rapid  rate.  Also,  in 
high  winds  the  fire  danger  may  be  underrated because rolling 
and blowing  leaves  are not  considered.  There  may  be  a leaf 
fall  after  a burn  and  rebum will  occur if you  don't  do  a  good 
job of mopup. 
4.   Tactics  and Strategy. 
Upslope  runs  and  sustained rates  of spread  are  more  common 
in the  mountains than  the  other  geographical regions. 
Fires  may  burn  for  several  days  but  usually  make  their  main 
run  on the first  or second  day.  Heavy  ground fuels  and  cull 
trees  make  it difficult to mop  up. 
a.   Generally speaking,  when  fighting  fires  in  the  mountains 
in  this  region,  try  to  get  to  the  top  for  major 
suppression efforts. 
(1)   When  a fire  makes  a run  you  don't  usually catch it 
until  it reaches  the  top. 
(2)   Due to accessability,  equipment is generally only 
useable  on ridgetops. 
(3)   Tactically,  attack  the  fire  indirectly and  backfire 
the line to construct a sufficiently wide  break to 
hold  the  fire. 
b.   If a fire  is making  a fast  run  and  is  very  hot  you  may 
have  to make  a flanking  attack.  If you  must  flank  a fire 
Your  major  suppression effort,  all  other factors  being 
equal,  should  be  on  the east  flank  first.  Dry,  cold 
weather fronts  can cause  a 90  degree  wind  direction 
change  in a short  time,  creating a new  front  along  the 
east flank. 
5.   Safety. 
a.   Appalachian ridges  and slopes  often have shallow soil 
and  loose  rock.  Tractor operation can  be  hazardous. 
Ledges  and  cliffs  created naturally,  or  by  strip  mining, 
can be  a problem to people at night,  as  well  as to 
b.   Backfires are  often started by  local people from 
streams,  trails,  etc.  to  protect their own property  or,  in 
some  cases,  by  arsonists who  use  the  confusion to  start 
additional  fires. 
c.   Heavy vegetation can  hamper fire  suppression and 
movement of personnel. 
d.   You  may  need law  enforcement personnel to  escort 
6.   Resources Available. 
States  in the  southeast have  some  type  of aerial support in 
times  of emergencies.  Tactics used are  usually concerned with 
helicopters with  water buckets or  fixed  tanks  making multiple 
drops  in  support of ground forces  rather than  attacking  the 
fire  in  a  direct suppression effort.  Federal lands  generally 
have  both helicopters and  aerial  tankers  available.  Due  to  cost 
of large  airtankers,  states  may  not  opt  to  use  this  resource.  A 
new  tool  recently introduced is  a  "scoop"  tanker used where 
large bodies of water are  available.  It  is  not  widely available, 
but is  very  effective. 
The  helicopter with  bucket or  fixed  tank  is  a very effective 
tool  in  the  southeast due  to the  proximity of water sources.  In 
much of the  mountain region  a turnaround time  of 5  to  6 
minutes isn't unusual.  Use  of Class A foam  is on  the  increase. 
Type  III  dozers  with  fire  plows  and  communications  are 
widely available.  Handtools are  effective and  the  first  line of 
defense.  At times  it isn't  necessary to  get  mineral soil  to  stop  a 
running fire  in  the  first  attack.  Removal  of the  loose leaf litter 
is often enough and  that  can be  accomplished by  leaf blowers 
and  handtools.  Another important tool  is  the  All  Terrain 
Vehicle (ATV)  which makes  accessibility easier and helps 
move  supplies and  equipment, 
7. SpecialConsiderations.
Strip mines and haul roads for timber or coal are numerous in
someareas, allowing access, andacting asafire breaks. They
arenot on anymapbut local forestry personnelwill know
about them.
Caution: Itiseasytogettrapped onsteepslopes created by
overburden pushed offthe stripbenches. Stayonthebenches
and constructindirect fireline. Post Lookoutsifneeded.
8. There usually isnoproblemwith density altitude: Most of
southeastislessthan5000'MSL; 80%lessthan 1000'MSL.
B. PiedmontPlateau
The PiedmontPlateau comprises approximately50 million acres of
1. Fuels.
FuelModel 9- Mixed hardwoods-pine.
FuelModel 1- Open southern pineplantation.
FuelModel9- Closedpinestands.
Most ofthisregion iscovered with mixed hardwoodpine
forest. Fuel continuity isfrequently brokenby open spaces
where land has been clearedfor agriculturalpurposes.
There isawiderange offuel sizesanddensities. Many areas
have hardwood fueltypes notunlike themountainregions.
There areother extensive areas ofloblollyand slash pine
plantationranging from seedlings topole and sawlog size
Thewide rangeoffuels inpine plantationsmakes fire
suppressiondifficultandhazardous. The youngerplantations
have large amounts oflight fuels (herbaceousmaterials, pine
litter, seedlings, hardwood debris). The sapling size
plantationswill easily crown given properconditions and their
density hampers working withequipment.
Fueltypesnearstreamsandwetbottoms consistofmixed
bottomlandhardwoods but withlessleaflitter than theupland
sites. Also,thereisoftenheavycover ofJapanesehoneysuckle
whichisusually notasflammable asloose leaflitter. This
cover isnotusually a "FuelLadder" sinceitis shaded out in
pine fuels where crown fires occur.
2.   Topography. 
Approximately 2/3  of  the  Piedmont is  forest  land.  The  rolling 
topography consists  of deep,  clay  soils  and  numerous  small 
streams.  Except in local  situations,  such  as river bluffs,  slope 
generally  has  little  effect fire  behavior. 
This  area  historically has  been the  center of agriculture in  the 
southeast.  The  region  has been  burned repeatedly by  local 
residents  and  only  in  recent  years  have  fire  prevention 
activities  shown  results.  People still cause  most  of the  fires  in 
this  region,  either through  debris  burning  or  arson.  Railroads 
also  cause  serious  problems  in some  areas.  Claims personnel 
need  to be  aware  of how  the  fire  started. 
3.   Weather. 
As  in  mountains,  fires  in the  Piedmont area  usually burn the 
most  acreage  during  the  first  day.  Fires  tend  to  die  down 
nightly and  the  rolling  terrain  allows  much  suppression 
activity  to be  done  at night  when  the  humidity recovery is 
high.  There  are exceptions to  this  and  weather forecasts  are 
4.   Tactics  and  Strategy. 
a.   Fires  burning in  mixed pine-hardwood fuel  types  are 
fought  differently  than  pine  plantation fires: 
(1)   Slow  moving  fires  are  attacked direct and  at  the 
head.  This  is  perfect terrain to  use  dozers  in 
conjunction with burnout,  and this  tactic  is used 
(2)   Fast  moving  fires  are  attacked at  natural  breaks  or 
by  flanking  the fire  with  mechanized equipment 
with  burnout. 
In  most  cases  where  natural fuel  types  prevail 
there  will be breaks  in  the  fuel  continuity by 
roads,  agricultural  land,  or  streams.  These  are 
excellent breaks  from  which  to  make  a stand 
against  the fire  and  should be  used  where  possible. 
Again,  backfiring is mandatory if these  lines  are 
to be  effective. 
b. Young pine plantationscreate atotallydifferent
situationthan natural fuel types. Whenconditionsare
suchthat major fires arepossibleit isusuallynot
practicalto try afrontal attack on aplantationfire.
In somepartsofthePiedmontandCoastalPlains
extensivereforestationprograms have createdliterally
miles ofdifferentaged plantations, brokenonly
occasionallyby natural forest types.
The situationisnotasbleakasitsounds. Allplantations
ofany sizehave asystem offire breaks and/orroads.
Also, streams, branches, and wet drainages remainin
hardwoods with little groundcover, thereby creating a
natural avenue for equipmentand agood breakin fuel
(1) Fires inintermediateandyoung pine plantations
areusually attacked ontheflanks with mechanized
equipmentandburnedout and, ifnaturalbreaks
are available, atthe head with backfiring.
Caution isthewatchwordandyou must have an
experiencedperson handlingthe frontal attack.
Important: Effectiveburningout is, necessaryin
this situation. Burnoutmust be coordinatedwith
line construction. The burnoutmust be set atthat
specific time when the wildfireis "drawing" the
air towardthe fire from the line, preventing the
burnoutfrom spotting over the line.
(2) Onextremelyfast moving plantationfires itis
unlikelythat afrontal attack will be successful. In
thissituation about allyoucandoistokeep the
width ofthefire ataminimumby flanking attack
and make your main stand after the fire moves
out ofthe plantationand isburningin otherfuel
5. Safety.
Due to the rolling terrain and ease ofequipmentoperationitis
easy to take fires for grantedin the Piedmont.
Special caution should betaken when dry, cold fronts move
throughthe area andwhen workinginthe dense fuels ofpine
plantations. Backfiringandburnout, while commonlyused,
mustbeassigned toexperiencedpersonnel andcoordinated
directly bythe operations section chieforincident
commander. Escape routes for personneland equipmentare
extremely important! Itiseasytobecome careless when ona
6. ResourcesAvailable.
a. Plantationfiresburn swiftly and cover much land in a
relativelyshort time. However, they usuallyburn most
of their acreage in the first burning period.
b. Firebehaviorinthe Piedmontisoften influencedby
weathersystems that produce extreme behavior.
c. People from nearby urban areas are building summer
andfulltimeresidences inheavily woodedareas ofthe
Piedmont. Property values canbehigh and areusually
given high priorityfor protectionifthreatenedby
C. CoastalPlains
TheCoastal Plains comprise approximately 100millionacres of
Fuel typesinthecoastal plainsregion aredeterminedsomewhatby
thelanddrainage patterns. Theycanbedividedinto:
• Sandhills.
• HighPocosin.
• Low Pocosin.
1. Sandhills
a. Fuels
FuelModel 1,5- 10tons/acre and FuelModel 9-10+
Fuels inthis areaareoften loblolly, longleaf, or slash
pine with natural grass understory. Pine stands
predominatebut mixed hardwoodstands similartothe
Piedmontregions are common.
Another common fuel type is palmetto-gallberryunder
pine overstory.
Soils  are  well  drained sandy  soil  and  ground litter 
consists  of pine  needles,  grasses,  herbaceous materials, 
and  hardwood  understory. 
Wide  expanses  of young  pine  plantations are found  in 
the  sandhills  creating the  same  high  hazard areas  as 
those  plantation in the Piedmont. 
b.  Topography. 
Nearly  flat  topography  with  meandering  streams  and 
high  water  table,  but  generally very  accessible by 
limited mechanized equipment.  The  Everglades 
National Park  is  so flat  the  highest point in  the  park is 
10.5 feet  in elevation. 
The  Coastal  Plains  has had  some  of the  most  severe  fire 
problems  in the past.  While  access  is readily available 
to  most  areas,  there  are  large,  unbroken  areas  of forest 
Single  fires  of 150,000  acres  have  burned in  Coastal 
Plains  regions,  and  fires  over  10,000  acres  are  not 
uncommon during  average  fire  years.  Part of Texas 
and  Oklahoma are  in  this  region. 
c.  Weather. 
Due  to the  fast  moving  dry  cold  fronts,  fire  in  the 
coastal  plains  usually  bums the  most  acreage the  first 
day.  Due  to the increase in RH the  fires  tend  to  die 
down  nightly.  The  rolling  terrain and  increase in  RH, 
allow  much  suppression activity to be  done  at night. 
There  are  exceptions  to this,  such  as  dry  cold fronts. 
d.  Tactics  and Strategy. 
Fire  behavior and  tactics  here  are  practically the  same  as 
those  in the Piedmont regions.  Similar fuels  exist  and 
weather patterns  are  much  the  same.  Often palmetto-
gallberry fuel  type  is encountered in  association with 
pine  overstory. 
e. Safety
One significantdifferencefirefighters shouldbe aware
ofisthesandhillregions tendtohave anabundanceof
light fuels that dry out quickly. The area may receive
substantialrain one day and bumfiercely the following
day. The sandy soilsdonothold moisturelike the
f. ResourcesAvailable.
1) Dozers withblades andfire plows aswell as
volunteerfire departmentengines and specialized
2) Manyoftheagencies areusing swamp buggy
engines with wide, low pressuretires for
maximumflotation and minimumimpact.
Bombadiers,attrackedvehicle withoutablade
andwith water handlingcapability, are also used.
3) Again, helicopterswith bucketsorfixed tanks are
effectivetoolsbecauseofwatersources. North
CarolinaState agricultural airtankers can carry
800 hundredgallons ofretardant.
4) Some use ofagricultural airtankersin otherstates.
5) Very few (ifany) Type Ihelicoptersin southeast.
2. Pocosins - HighandLow.
a. Fuels.
The fuels found inthepocosinsare similarto those
found inswamps.
1) High Pocosin - Fuel Model 2, 30- 40 tons/acre.
Mixedhardwoodtimberand evergreenbrush
from 6- 20feet tall. The leaves ofthe brushare
high inoilcontentand highly flammable during
fire seasons. Some areas have pine overstory.
There isusually heavy groundlitteron shallow
organic todeep peat soils. Fuels areoften as
much as40 tons/acre. Heavy understoryof
shrubs, vines, and seedlings, and youngtrees
make upmost ofthe fuel.
2) Low Pocosin - Fuel Model 7, 10+ tons/acre.
Consists of mixed hardwood brush, generally less
than six feet tall. Evergreen brush is high in oil
content and very flammable.
Low Pocosin generally has less ground litter and
stands of shrub pond pine and Atlantic white
cedar are occasionally found, although generally
there is no overstory.
Soils are shallow organic soils or deep peat, and
fuels range up to 10 tons per acre of vines,
herbaceous material and conifer or hardwood
b. Topography.
Pocosin is literally a "swamp" on a hill. This will be a
swampy area but with an elevation of 250 - 300 feet
above sea level. They have been drained extensively by
canals and ditches to create farm land or to plant
southern pine. The soil from these canals and ditches
usually become roadways with no access to the timber.
The soils and peat dry out creating severe burning
ground fires.
c. Weather.
In heavy fuels, such as in high Pocosin, flank attacks are
the only practical strategy in most cases. Consider
weather forecasts. Cold frontal systems cause the same
problems of shifting winds in the coastal plains as they
do in other geographical areas of the southeast.
You also need to consider seabreezes. As land heats
during the day, normal wind patterns may become
erratic due to sea breezes if the fire is in the eastern part
of the coastal plains.
d. Tactics and Strategy.
Is there a need for a bridging crew?
Due to almost flat terrain, fuels and weather are the
dominating factors in fire behavior in the Pocosin areas
of the southeastern United States.
Head Attack.
Head attacks can be made where fuel is light and
maneuverability is possible. In these situations, crown
fires are not a great hazard. Most commonly used in
low Pocosin.
A head attack is also a practical strategy when natural or
man-made breaks occur in the fuels, such as canals and
roadways. Line construction for a head attack should
consist of multiple lines looped around the fire head and
backfiring the line nearest the fire. If possible, tying the
line to a barrier is superior to looping it around the
head of the fire.
Caution - spotting is always a problem in these fuels and
even more so when the backfire and fire's head meet.
Another method of head attack is to construct two
parallel lines at the head of the fire and burn out
between the two lines. Distance between the two lines
would be dependent on the distance the fire is spotting.
Head attacks can also be made without backfiring if
necessary. Again, multiple lines are effective as well as
using serial application of retardant in conjunction with
tracked equipment and fire plows.
Indirect attacks are almost always necessary to allow
time for sufficient numbers of lines to be constructed.
Do not attack the head of a crowning fire. Let it run
and work the flank or rear.
If all things are equal, attack a fire counter-clockwise to
counteract the clockwise shift of winds if frontal systems
move through the area. If there is no prospect of
weather changes, attack hottest flank first or flank with
most loss potential.
Attack downwind from the base of a fire and plow close
enough to allow the back fire to be pulled by the indraft
from the main fire. Bum out line as it is constructed.
Attacking upwind from natural breaks should be done
cautiously! You must construct firelines farther from
the flank for safety reasons. Working close to the flank
might allow equipment to be trapped by split heads or
finger of fire.
Again,  caution  is paramount during  upwind  attacks  on 
large  fires. 
Ideally,  if sufficient personnel and equipment are 
available, both flanks  should be attacked  downwind at 
the  same time.  If natural  breaks  are available  a head 
attack can be made in conjunction with the flank  attacks. 
e.  Safety. 
Safety  is always  the first  consideration in  fire 
suppression  and it is doubly  important in the  Pocosins. 
These  areas have hazardous  fuel types  and are difficult 
to traverse.  Drainage  ditches  and canals  where  soil has 
been  removed  fill  with  water  and  are  difficult for 
equipment to cross.  Bridging  crews  may be  necessary 
to  construct temporary  bridges. 
Dense vegetation  and unsure  footing  at times  make  it 
practically impossible for people  on foot  to  move 
rapidly.  All kinds  of critters  will be  pushed out by  the 
Attacking  the head  of fires  is commonly done,  but  is 
dangerous.  Extreme  caution  must be used  even  in an 
apparently  routine  fire. 
Never  allow direct  attack  on flanks  on an upwind attack. 
Make an indirect  attack and use an aerial  scout. 
Humidity  is usually  high.  It may take  time  for people  to 
get used  to breathing such moist  air. 
f.  Resources Available. 
1)  Dozers  with  high  flotation  tracks. 
2)  Helicopters  with buckets  or fixed  tanks. 
3)  "Specialized" tracked  vehicles  for  swamp 
4)  Pumps and hoses. 
5)  Airtankers. 
g. SpecialConsiderations.
1) Firesburningin peatand deep organic soils will
bumdownto the watertable. In periods of
drought itmaybe necessary toirrigate firelines
withhighvolumepumpsto completelyextinguish
A commonobservationduring wildfires in dry
periodsis the soil burningawayfrom treeroots
causingthemto toppleoveras the fire advances.
2) Alwaysuse two dozerstogetherin wetor swampy
terrain. One canhelpthe otherget unstuck; or in
somecases, one dozerwill plowwhilethe other
3) In wetor swampyterrain, haveequipmentset a
courseascloseaspossibleon astraightaline.
Planlines to minimizeturns sincethis is where
the dozeris mostlikelyto get boggeddown.
Neverplowthe samelinetwiceandcross
previouslyplowedlines at rightangles. It is not
uncommonto have3- 4 dozerson initialattack
and 15- 20 on extendedattack.
D. Swamps.
1. Fuels.
FuelModel7 - SandPine- sandpinehas averysmallrange
and the largestconcentrationis ablockof280,000acres on the
OcalaNational Forestin NorthCentralFlorida. It is a fire
species. Usuallythereis one fire pergenerationand usually
this is a highintensitycrownfire. Undernormalconditions
the sandpinescrub is virtuallyfire proof. This is primarily
due to maturesandpinehavingadenseunderstoryof
evergreenoaks withlittleor no herbaceous groundcover.
FuelModel3- TallGrass.
FuelModel 1- ShortGrass.
UplandPine (Longleaf/SlashPrimarily).
Historically,  you  are looking  at  a pine/grass  understory.  With 
the  absence  of fire,  it becomes  pine/brush understory  or 
pine/palmetto-gallberry.  It is basically a Fuel  Model 2, for 
pine/grass  and  Fuel  Model  7 for  pine/palmetto-gallberry bush. 
With heavy  loadings  and needle  drape  upland pine  can be Fuel 
Model  2 and 5 - 15 tons  per acre  in Fuel  Model  7,  dependent 
on  the  age  of the rough. 
2.  Topography. 
There  are numerous  swamps  and lowlands  in the  southeast, 
located in the coastal  plains.  They  are characterized by  a low 
elevation and generally  fragile  ecosystem that  requires special 
technique to combat the  fires.  If at  all possible order up  a 
micro-RAWS  for  weather.  The  topography for  this  area  is 
flat  flat  flat!!! 
3.  Weather. 
The  weather for this area will be  the  same  as the coastal plains. 
4.  Tactics  and Strategy. 
a.  Tall Sawgrass. 
The most effective tactic  to use in tall  sawgrass is to 
work  when  RH is high.  Primarily between daylight and 
0900.  You can  add another two  hours  or  so when 
supported by  water drops. 
Fight  the  fire  by  flanking  (direct  attack)  with  flaps.  The 
tactic  is  to  start  swatting  at the  rear  of the  fire,  flanking 
the fire  and gradually pinching off the  head.  In  the 
areas  of tall sawgrass  there  usually  are  some  pockets of 
spike  rush  that  are intermingled in  with  the  sawgrass. 
Weedeaters  with cutting blades  can be used  to cut a 
fireline.  Connect the  fireline  to  spike  rush  flats  or  to  tie 
it into  burned areas.  From  these  cut  lines  you  can  burn 
out.  Spotting  is  generally  short  range  due  to  rapid 
consumption of fuels.  Helicopters  are used  to  support 
ground  crews  with  water. 
The most effective  tactic to use in sand pine  is plowing 
lines  and burning  out.  If this  does  not  work  the  strategy 
usually  calls  for  going  to a fuel  break,  such  as a road 
and  backfiring. 
In dense stands, fires crown fairly easily and spread
rapidly. Estimated spread rates of 5 mph and higher
have been reported. Flame lengths have been estimated
in excess of 100 feet.
Large fires typically occur between February and June.
This is primarily due to fuel and weather conditions.
While drought conditions may occur at other times of
the year the foliage moisture and mineral content is not
as critical.
The low moisture content of new and old needles occurs
in March. Moisture content of old needles increases
through the summer and reaches its highest value in
August and September. Moisture content of new needles
rises sharply to very high values in June and July and
decreases through the rest of the year. The high values
result from initiation of new growth.
The ether extractive in both old and new needles peaks
primarily in March. Ether extractives and energy
values for sand pine are generally higher than those for
most other pines and they compare with the high values
of California brush species.
Studies have shown that when large fires occurred the
RH tended to be low (23 - 35%) and windspeeds high (9
- 20 mph). Visibility was very good (12 - 15 miles),
indicating frontal passage or an unstable air mass.
b. Short Grasses.
Short grasses can be effectively worked during the day,
except with high winds. Again it is crews with flaps
along with water drops in support. The most visual cost
effective tactic is to locate an area that is almost devoid
of any heavy vegetation and ignite with an aerial
ignition device. This requires an RH of 65 - 70 percent
recovery just before sundown. You ignite an area,
allow the spots to join and form a backing line, when
RH reaches approximately 80 percent the moisture
extinction takes over and the fire goes out.
c.  Pine Types. 
Scattered throughout  the pine  types  are bays  and ponds 
or wet boggy  areas.  When wet, these  can be used  as 
natural  fuel  breaks.  If  you  have  the  opportunity to fight 
fire  in these  areas,  one of the first  questions  to ask  is, 
"will the bays  stop  the fire?"  If they  will,  then  you're  in 
good  shape.  More  than  likely,  they  won't  or  you 
wouldn't  have been  called.  If the  "swampy"  area is in a 
hardwood timber  type,  typically the  fire  will  be  a low 
intensity  ground  fire,  but  it  will  require  handtool  work 
cutting  through  peat  or  a  deep  litter layer.  The  ground 
will  not usually  support  equipment.  If it is  a brush  type, 
such  as titi you  may experience a running  head  fire  in 
these bays. 
d.  Pine Plantations. 
Pine  plantations  are  going  to  play  a larger role  in fire 
suppression  efforts  in the  next  few  years.  With  the 
Conservation Reserve  Program,  millions  of pines  have 
been planted.  These plantations  have large  amounts  of 
light flashy fuels.  The sapling  size easily  crowns,  the 
density hampers  equipment and once inside  of these it is 
like being a mouse in a shoebox, the only way  you can 
see IS  up. 
Fire  behavior in  these  fuel  types  is  primarily from  live 
fuels  and corresponds  to the time  since it was last 
burned.  Any  dead  fuel  will  playa major  role  in fire 
activity,  i.e.,  needle  drape  will  encourage crowning. 
Typically,  you can expect 2' - 4' flame  lengths  and  rates 
of spread  (ROS)  of 4 - 8 chains  per  hour  on  low  to 
medium  class days in lighter  fuels.  On moderate  to high 
class  days in light  to moderate  fuels  expect  flames  of 4' -
10' with ROS of 8 - 12 chainslhr.  On high  class  days  in 
heavier  fuels  you can expect  15' - 20'  flame  lengths  with 
ROS  of 60  - 80 chains  per hour.  As  a general  rule,  in 
southern  pine  one mile per hour  is a good  estimate to 
use  on extreme  fire  behavior.  However,  in  blow-up 
conditions,  you may see these ROS go to  150 - 200 
chains  per hour  with flame lengths  in excess  of 100 feet 
as  crown fires  develop. 
Tactics totake onslowmoving fires isto anchorinto a
road, stream, or any fuel breakand attackthe fire
directly andcutoffthe head, burningout behindthe
Onfast moving andcrowningfires, you back up to a
fuel break, backfire and hope you can hold your
backfire; ifnot,youget outofthe way andlet the head
run. You work the base and try to flank the fire,
burning outasyougo. Youcan also plow alot oflines
ahead ofthe fire front to create alarge fuel break.
5. Grass andSawgrass Fire Behavior
Backing Forward
  ~ O S     ~ O S  
ShortGrass 2' - 4' 4' - 6' 12'-15' 80'-100'
ShortSawgrass 2' - 8' 4' - 6' 10' - 20' 40' - 80'
TallSawgrass 8' - 12' 2' - 4' 20' - 30' 20' - 60'
6. Safety.
a) Roads - in this part of the countryare a "ball-bearing"
sand which requires high flotation tires or four wheel
drive totravel. Always keep one foot in the black. Tall
sawgrass (upto 12')isalmost impenetrableand once in
theseareas,visibilityisalmostnonexistent. Acompass
isamust tokeep oriented.
b) In fighting grass fires, always carry fusees. Shouldyou
gettrapped, you can quickly burn out asafety island.
Don'ttry to outrun on foot.
c) Inthe souththedozer operatorpositionis the most
dangerousjob, because fires inthecoastalplainare
wind driven. Fatalitiesand burnovershave resulted
from wind shifts while dozeroperators and firefighters
were directly attacking the flanks andhead ofafire and
not burning out.
d) Stumps - dozers are notorious for getting hung up on a
stump. The operatorwillmanytimes hangaroundtoo
long trying tosaveapiece ofequipment. Ifpossible
work dozers in tandem.
e) Duetotheflatness oftheland, communicationswillbea
f) Snakes, getting lostordisoriented,inaccessibleareas,
alligators, poison wood, poisonivy, holes, boggyareas
(poor footing) are all safety concerns tobe aware of.
g) Becauseofthemany safety concernsthere isnotusually
anight shiftinthe swamp areas.
ABORT:  To jettison a load  of water or  retardant from  an  aircraft. 
AERIAL FUELS:  All live  and dead  vegetation located in the  forest  canopy or 
above  the  surface  fuels,  including tree  branches  and  crowns,  snags,  moss,  and 
high  brush. 
AERIAL IGNITION:  The  process of dropping or  dispensing  an  igniting device 
or  material  from  an  aircraft. 
AGL  (Above Ground Level):  A term  frequently  used  in  aviation operations, 
usually  in connection with  a stated  altitude. 
AIR  TANKER:  Any  fixed-wing  aircraft certified by  the  FAA  as being  capable 
of transport and  delivery  of fire  suppressant solutions. 
ANCHOR  POINT:  An  advantageous location,  generally a fire  barrier,  from 
which  to  start  constructing a fireline.  Minimizes the  chance of being out  flanked 
by  the  fire  while  the  line  is being  constructed. 
BACKFIRING:  A tactic  associated with indirect attack,  intentionally setting fire 
to fuels  inside the  control line.  Most  often  used  to contain a rapidly spreading 
fire.  Backfiring provides  a  wide  defense perimeter,  and  may  be  further 
employed to change the force  of the  convection column.  Backfiring is  a tactic 
which  makes  possible a strategy  of locating control lines  at places where the  fire 
can  be  fought  on  the  firefighter's  terms.  Except for  rare  circumstances  meeting 
specified criteria, backfiring is executed on a command decision made  through 
line  channels of authority.  See  Burning out for  difference. 
BACKING  FIRE:  Fire  spreading or  ignited to  spread into  the  wind  and/or 
BERM:  In  fire  suppression,  a ridge  of soil  and  debris  along  the  edge  of a fireline 
resulting from  line  construction.  May  be  created on  the  downhill side  to  stop 
rolling  material. 
BLACKLINE:  In fire  suppression, a blackline denotes a condition where there is 
no unburned material between the  line  and  the  fire  edge. 
BLOWUP:  Sudden increase in fire  intensity or rate  of spread sufficient to 
preclude direct control or  to  upset existing control plans.  Often accompanied by 
violent convection. 
BREAKILEFT OR RIGHT: Means "turn" left or right. Applies to aircraft in
flight, usually on the drop run and when given as a command to the pilot.
Implies a prompt compliance. Should be used only in an emergency.
BUCKET: Any device suspended by cables from a helicopter designed to contain
and drop retardant or water onto a fire.
BURNING OUT: When attack is direct, intentionally setting fire to fuels inside
the control line to strengthen the line. Burning out is almost always done as a
part of line construction; the control line is considered incomplete unless there is
no fuel between the fire and the line. See Backfiring for difference.
BURNING PERIOD: That part of each 24-hour period when fires will spread
most rapidly, typically from 10:00 a.m. to sundown.
CALCULATION OF PROBABILITIES: Evaluation of all existing factors
pertinent to probable future behavior of a going fire and of the potential ability
of available forces to carry out control operations on a given time schedule.
CANOPY: The uppermost spreading, branchy layer of vegetation.
CARDINAL DIRECTIONS: North, south, east, west to always be used in giving
directions and information from the ground or air in describing the fire, e.g., the
west flank or east flank, not right or left flank.
CENTER FIRING: A method of broadcast burning in which fires are set in the
center of the area to create a strong draft; additional fires are then set
progressively nearer the outer control lines as in-draft builds up so as to draw
them in toward the center.
CHECK LINE: A temporary fireline constructed at right angles to the control
line and used to interrupt the spread of a backfire as a means of regulating the
heat or intensity of the backfire.
CLOCK METHOD: A means of establishing a flight path to a target on a fire by
reference to clock directions.
COLD TRAILING: A method of controlling a partly-dead fire edge by careful
inspection and feeling with the hand so as to detect any fire and extinguishing it
by digging out every live spot and trenching any live edge.
CONDITION OF VEGETATION: Stage of growth, or degree of flammability,
of vegetation that forms part of a fuel complex. Herbaceous stage is at times used
when referring to herbaceous vegetation alone. In grass areas, minimum
qualitative distinctions for stages of annual growth are usually green, curing, and
dry or cured.
CONFINE A FIRE: To restrict the fire within determined boundaries established
either prior to or during the fire.
CONSTRAINTS: Parameters or limitations on the use of specific suppression
CONTAIN A FIRE: To take suppression action as needed, which can reasonably
be expected to check the fire's spread llnder prevailing conditions.
CONTAINMENT: Completion of a control line around a fire and any associated
spot fires, which can be expected to stop fire spread.
CONTROL A FIRE: To complete a control line around a fire, any spot fires
therefrom, and any interior islands to be saved; bum out any unburned area
adjacent to the fire side of the control lines; and cool down all hot spots that are
immediate threats to the control line, until the lines can reasonably be expected to
hold under foreseeable conditions.
CONTROL FORCE: Resources used to control a fire.
CONTROL LINE: A comprehensive term for all the constructed or natural fire
barriers and treated edges used to control a fire.
COYOTE TACTIC: The "coyote tactic" consists of a progressive line
construction technique involving self-sufficient crews who build fireline until the
end of a shift, remain overnight (RON) at/near that point, and then begin again
on the next shift. Crews should be properly equipped and be prepared to spend
several shifts on the line with minimal support from fire camp.
DENSITY ALTITUDE: The pressure altitude corrected for temperature
deviations from the standard atmosphere. "Density altitude" bears the same
relation to "pressure altitude" as "true altitude" does to "indicated altitude." In air
operations, the altitude at which the aircraft "thinks" it is flying.
DEPLOYMENT  ZONE:  Deployment zones  are very  similar to  safety  zones. 
The  key  difference  is  that  fire  shelters  must  be  deployed to  insure  firefighter 
survival  in a deployment zone  due to the  available  space  and/or fire  behavior 
conditions  at the deployment zone location.  See Safety Zone. 
DIRECT  ATTACK:  Any  treatment of burning fuel,  e.g.,  by  wetting, 
smothering,  or  chemically quenching  the fire  by  physically separating the 
burning  from  unbllrned  fuel.  A  suppression strategy in  which  resources  are 
directed to  work  close  to  the  fire  edge. 
DIVISION  SUPERVISOR:  An operations  supervisor responsible for  all 
suppression activities  on  a specific  division  of a fire. 
DIVISION:  A unit  of a fire  perimeter between designated relief,  drainage,  or 
cultural features.  A division  is  supervised between the  Task  Force/Strike Team 
and the  Branch.  (Also  see "Group.") 
DOWN  LOADING:  A reduction to aircraft  payload made  to compensate for loss 
of performance due  to  increase  in density  altitude. 
DOZER  BOSS:  A person  responsible for  supervising one  or  more  dozers. 
DOZER COMPANY:  Any dozer  with  a minimum complement of two  persons. 
DOZER  LINE:  Fireline constructed by  a dozer. 
DOZER:  Any  tracked vehicle  with  a blade  for exposing mineral  soil. 
DROP  CONFIGURATION:  The  type  of air drop  selected to cover the  target. 
Terms  which  specify  drop  configuration include: 
SALVO-Drop the  entire  load  at one time.  
TRAIL-Drop tanks  in  sequence.  
SINGLE OR DOUBLE DOOR-Drop a partial load.  
DROP  ZONE:  The  area  around  and immediately above  the  target,  applies  to 
retardant  and  paracargo. 
DRY  RUN:  A  trial  pass  over  the  target  area by  an  air tanker. 
DUFF:  Forest floor  material composed of the  L  (litter),  F  (fermentation),  and  H 
(humus)  layers  in  different stages  of decomposition. 
DUMMY RUN: A simulated bombing run made on a target by the lead plane or
air tanker. Used to indicate approach and target to air tanker and to check for
flight hazards.
ENGINE COMPANY: Any ground vehicle providing specified levels of
pumping, water, hose capacity, and personnel.
ESCAPED FIRE SITUATION ANALYSIS: A document approved by the line
officer that outlines strategies to be used in suppressing an escaped fire.
ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival.
ETD: Estimated Time of Departure.
EXIT: A command used to indicate the direction for a pilot to fly after a given
maneuver: i.e., "Exit southbound over the lake."
EXPOSURE: Property that may be endangered by a fire burning in another
structure or by a wildfire. In general, property within 40 feet (12 meters) of a
fire may be considered to involve exposure hazard, although, in very large fires,
danger may exist at much greater distances.
EXTEND: To drop retardant in such a way that the load slightly overlaps and
lengthens a previous drop. "Extend your last drop."
FAA: Federal Aviation Agency.
FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations): Refers to the regulations governing all
aviation activities of civil aircraft within the United States and its territories.
FINAL: An air tanker is said to be "on final" when it is on line with the target
and intends to make the drop on that pass. Applies also to cargo dropping.
FINE FUELS: Fast-drying dead fuels, generally characterized by a
comparatively high surface area-to-volume ratio, which are less than 1/4-inch in
diameter and have a timelag of one hour or less. These fuels (grass, leaves,
needles, etc.) ignite readily and are consumed rapidly by fire when dry.
FIRE FOAM: An extinguishing agent, chemically and/or mechanically produced,
that blankets and adheres to the fuel, reducing combustion. It relies on moisture
it contains for its effectiveness, so is a short-term suppressant.
FIRE RETARDANT: Any substance except plain water that by chemical or
physical action reduces the flammability of fuels or slows their rate of
combustion, e.g., a liquid or slurry applied aerially or from the ground during a
fire suppression operation.
FIRE SHELTER: A personal protection item carried by firefighters which
forms a tent-like shelter of heat-reflective material.
FIRE WHIRL: A spinning, vortex column of ascending hot air and gases rising
from a fire and carrying aloft smoke, debris, and flame. Fire whirls range from
a foot or two in diameter to small tornadoes in size and intensity. They may
involve the entire fire area or only a hot spot within the area.
FIREBREAK: Any natural or constructed discontinuity in a fuelbed utilized to
segregate, stop, and control the spread of fire or to provide a control line from
which to suppress a fire.
FIRELINE EXPLOSIVES (FLE): Specially developed coils containing explosive
powder that are detonated to create a fireline through ground fuels.
FIRELINE: A loose term for any cleared strip used in control of a fire. That
portion of a control line from which flammable materials have been removed by
scraping or digging down to the mineral soil.
FIXED TANK: A device mounted inside or directly underneath an aircraft
which can contain water or retardant for dropping onto a fire.
FLANK FIRE: A firing technique consisting of treating an area with lines of fire
set into the wind which burn outward at right angles to the wind.
FLANKING FIRE SUPPRESSION: Working along the flanks, whether
simultaneously or successively, from a less active or anchor point toward the
head of a fire in order to contain the latter.
FLANKS OF A FIRE: The parts of a fire's perimeter that are roughly parallel
to the main direction of spread.
FLAREUP: Any sudden acceleration of fire spread or intensification of the fire.
Unlike Blowup, a flareup is of relatively short duration and does not radically
change existing control plans.
FLASHOVER: In structural fire terminology, flashover occurs when radiation
and convection from burning objects within an enclosure heat the walls and other
objects in the enclosure to their ignition temperature and all flammable interior
surfaces begin to flame. Flashover in a room is marked by a large increase in
flame volume and a sudden, marked rise in gas temperature.
FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared): A hand-held or aircraft-mounted device
designed to detect heat differentials and display their images on a video screen.
FLIRs have thermal resolution similar to IR line scanners, but their spatial
resolution is substantially less. They are commonly used to detect hot spots and
flareups obscured by smoke to evaluate the effectiveness of firing operations, to
detect areas needing mopup work, and for other purposes.
FOAM: See fire foam.
FOAMING AGENT: An additive that reduces the surface tension of water
(producing wet water) causing it to spread and penetrate more effectively and
which produces foam through mechanical means.
FUEL MODEL: A simulated fuel complex for which all the fuel descriptors
required for the solution of a mathematical fire spread model have been
FUEL MOISTURE CONTENT: The water content of a fuel particle expressed
as a percent of the oven-dry weight of the fuel particle.
GROUND FIRE: Fire that consumes the organic material in the soil layer (e.g.,
a "peat fire").
GROUND FUELS: All combustible materials below the surface litter, including
duff, tree or shrub roots, punky wood, peat, and sawdust that normally support a
glowing combustion without flame.
HEAD FIRE: A fire spreading or set to spread with the wind and/or upslope.
HEADING: The compass direction in which the longitudinal axis of the aircraft
HELD LINE: All worked control lines that still contain the fire when mopup is
HELIBUCKET: A specially designed bucket carried by a helicopter like a sling
load and used to drop suppressants or retardants.
HELITACK:  Fire  suppression using  helicopters  and trained airborne teams  to 
achieve  control of wildfire. 
RELITANK:  A specially designed tank,  generally of fabric  or metal,  fitted 
closely  to the  bottom of a helicopter and used  for  transporting and  dropping 
suppressants  or  retardants. 
HELITANKER:  A helicopter equipped with either  a helitank or  a helibucket. 
HELITORCH:  An ignition  device  suspended  under  a helicopter, capable of 
dispensing ignited fuel  to  the  ground  to  assist  in burning out  or  backfiring. 
HOT  SPOT:  A particularly active  part  of the  fire. 
HOTSPOTTING:  Checking the  spread  of fire  at points  of particularly rapid 
spread  or  special  threat-generally the initial  step  in  prompt control,  with 
emphasis  on  first  priorities. 
INDIRECT  ATTACK:  A method  of suppression in which  the control line  is 
located  some considerable distance  away from  the fire's  active  edge.  Generally 
done  in the  case  of a fast-spreading  or high-intensity fire  and  to  utilize natural or 
constructed firebreaks  or  fuelbreaks  and  favorable  breaks  in  the  topography. 
The  intervening fuel  is usually  backfired;  but  occasionally the  main  fire  is 
allowed  to bum to the line,  depending on conditions. 
JUMP  SPOT:  A  selected  landing  area for  smokejumpers or helijumpers. 
LEAD  PLANE:  Aircraft flown  to  make  trial  runs  over  the  fire  and  used  to 
direct  the  tactical deployment of air tankers. 
LITTER:  The  top  layer  of the  forest  floor,  composed of loose debris  of dead 
sticks, branches,  twigs,  and recently  fallen  leaves  or needles,  little  altered in 
structure by  decomposition.  See Duff. 
LONG-TERM  RETARDANT:  A chemical  that has the capability to inhibit 
spread of flame  through  chemical  reactions  between products of combustion and 
the applied  chemicals, even  after the water  component has evaporated. 
MAFFS  (Modular Airborne  Firefighting System):  A manufactured unit 
consisting of five  interconnecting tanks,  a control  pallet,  and  a nozzle  pallet,  with 
a capacity  of 3,000  gallons  (11,355  liters),  designed to be  rapidly  mounted inside 
an unmodified C-130  (Hercules)  cargo  aircraft for  use  in  cascading retardant  -,
chemicals  on wildfires. 
MODIFIED  SUPPRESSION:  Suppression action dictated  by one or more 
management constraints that  affect  strategy  and/or  tactics. 
MOPUP:  The  act of making  a fire  safe  after it is controlled. 
NATURAL  BARRIER:  A naturally occurring obstruction to  the  spread of fire. 
ORBIT:  The  circular holding  pattern of an air  tanker in  the  vicinity of a fire 
waiting  for  orders  to  make  a  drop. 
PARACARGO:  Anything  intentionally dropped or  intended for  dropping from 
any  aircraft by  parachute,  other retarding  devices,  or  free  fall. 
PARTS  OF  A FIRE:  On typical  free-burning  fires,  the  spread  is  uneven with  the 
main  spread  moving  with  the  wind  or  upslope.  The  most  rapidly moving portion 
is designated the  head of the  fire,  the  adjoining  portions  of the  perimeter at right 
angles to the head  are known  as the flanks, and the  slowest moving  portion is 
known  as the  rear or the base or  [Australia] the back.
PATROL:  To  go back  and forth  vigilantly over  a length of control line  during 
and/or  after  construction to  prevent slopovers,  control  spot  fires,  and  extinguish 
overlooked hot  spots. 
PING-PONG  BALL  DISPENSER (Premo  MK III  Aerial  Ignition Device):  An 
aerial ignition  device  which injects  ethylene  glycol  into  a plastic  sphere  containing 
potassium permanganate.  The  primed  sphere  is  ejected from  the  aircraft. 
PLOW  LINE:  Line  constructed by  a fireline  plow. 
PRE-TREAT:  Treating fuels  with  retardant or  foam  along  a control line  in 
advance  of the  fire  where  ground cover or  terrain is  best for  control  action. 
PROGRESSIVE HOSE  LAY:  A hose lay in which double  shutoff wyes  are 
inserted  in  the  main  line  at intervals and lateral  lines  are  run  from  the  wyes  to  the 
fire  edge,  thus  permitting continuous  application of water  during  extension of the 
RAPPELLING:  The  process  of delivering firefighters  by  descending down  a 
rope  from  a  hovering  helicopter. 
RATE  OF  SPREAD:  The  relative  activity  of a fire  in extending its  horizontal 
dimensions.  The  forward  rate  of spread  at the  fire  front  or  head  is  usually  what 
is meant by  this  term. 
REBURN:  (1) Repeat burning of an area  over  which  a fire  has  previously passed 
but has  left  fuel  subsequently ignitable.  (2) Also  the  area  so reburned. 
REHABILITATION:  The  activities  necessary  to repair damage or disturbance 
caused  by  wildfire  or  the  wildfire  suppression activity. 
RESIDENCE  TIME:  The  time  required for the  flaming  zone  of  a fire  to  pass  a 
stationary point;  the  width  of the flaming  zone  divided  by  the  rate  of  spread of 
the  fire. 
RESTRICTED  AREA:  Airspace  of defined  dimensions identified by  an area  on 
the  surface  of the  earth  within  which  the  flight  of aircraft,  while  not  wholly 
prohibited,  is  subject to  restrictions. 
RETARDANT  COVERAGE:  The  area of fuel covered and  degree  of coverage 
on the  fuel  by  a retardant.  Coverage levels  are usually  expressed in terms  of 
gallons  per  hundred  square  feet  or  liters  per  square  meter. 
RETARDANT:  See fire  retardant. 
SAFETY  ZONE:  An  area  (usually  a recently burned area)  used  for  escape in  the 
event  the line  is outflanked or in case a spot fire  causes  fuels  outside the  control 
line  to render the  line  unsafe.  In firing  operations,  crews  progress  so  as  to 
maintain  a safety  island  close  at hand  allowing  the fuels inside  the control line  to 
be consumed before  going ahead.  Safety islands  may also be constructed as 
integral parts  of fuelbreaks;  they  are greatly  enlarged areas  which  can  be  used 
with  relative  safety  by  firefighters  and  their  equipment in  the  event of blowup in 
the  vicinity "without utilization or deployment of a fire  shelter." 
SCRATCH LINE:  A minimum line hastily  established or constructed as an initial 
measure to  check the  spread  of a fire. 
SECONDARY  LINE:  Any fireline  constructed at a distance  from  the  fire 
perimeter concurrently  with  or  after  a primary  control  line  has  already  been 
constructed on  or  near  to  the  perimeter of the  fire.  Generally constructed as  an 
insurance measure  in case  the fire  escapes  control  by the  primary line. 
SHORT-TERM  RETARDANT:  A chemical  which  has no inherent fire  retarding 
property but  which  alters  the  viscosity or  retards  the  evaporation of water. 
SIMPLE HOSE LAY:  A hose lay consisting  of consecutively coupled lengths  of 
hose without  laterals.  The lay is extended by inserting additional lengths  of hose 
in the line between pump and nozzle. 
SLING  LOAD:  Equipment and  supplies  prepared and  transported by cables 
suspended from  a helicopter. 
SLOPOVER:  A fire  edge  that crosses  a control  line  intended to confine the  fire. 
Also  the  fire  that  results.  Other  names  are  breakaway,  breakover,  and  breakover 
SMOLDERING  FIRE:  A fire burning  without  flame  and  barely spreading. 
SNAG:  A standing  dead  tree  or part  of a dead  tree  from  which  at least  the  leaves 
and smaller  branches  have  fallen.  Often called  stub, if less  than  20 feet  tall. 
SPAN  OF CONTROL:  The  maximum  number  of subordinates who  can  be 
directly  supervised by  one  person  without  loss  of efficiency.  In  fire  suppression, 
the number varies  by  activity  but  is usually  in  the  general  range  of 3 to  7. 
SPOT  FIRE:  A fire  set outside  the perimeter of the  main  fire  by  flying  sparks  or 
SPOTTING:  Behavior of a fire  producing  sparks  or  embers  that  start  new  fires 
beyond  the  zone  of direct  ignition  by  the  main  fire. 
STRATEGY:  An  overall  plan  of action  for  fighting  a fire  which gives  regard to 
the most cost-efficient use of personnel  and equipment in consideration of values 
threatened,  fire  behavior,  legal  constraints,  and  objectives established for 
resource  management.  Leaves  decisions  on the tactical  use  of personnel and 
equipment to supervisors and leaders  in the  operations  section. 
STRIP FIRING: Setting fire to more than one strip of fuel and providing for the
strips to burn together. Frequently done in burning out against the wind where
inner strips are fired first to create drafts which pull flames and sparks away
from the control line.
SURFACE FIRE: Fire that bums surface litter, other loose debris of the forest
floor, and small vegetation.
SURFACE FUEL: Fuels that contact the surface of the ground, consisting of leaf
and needle litter, dead branch material, downed logs, bark, tree cones, and low
stature living plants.
SWAMPER: A worker on a dozer crew who pulls winch line, helps maintain
equipment, etc., to speed suppression work on a fire. Sometimes used to walk
ahead of the dozer to guide operator in construction of a fireline.
TACTICS: Operational aspects of fire suppression. Determining exactly where
and how to build a control line and what other suppression measures are
necessary to extinguish the fire. Tactics must be consistent with the strategy
established for suppressing the fire.
TEST FIRE: A controlled fire set to evaluate fire behavior and control
TIE- IN: To connect a control line or airdrop with another line coming from the
opposite direction or with a specified point (road, stream, etc.). "Tie-in tanker
78's drop with the road."
TORCHING: The burning of the foliage of a single tree, or a small group of
trees, from the bottom up.
TURN-THE-CORNER: To contain a fire along a flank and begin containing it
across the head. Refers to ground or air attack.
UNDERCUT LINE: A fireline below a fire on a slope. Should be trenched to
catch rolling material. Also called underslung line.
VALUES-AT-RISK: Physical and non-physical elements of the environment that
may be adversely affected by fire.
VENTILATION: Air flow and supply through a structure.
VISCOSITY:  The thickness of a solution or suspension.  A measure  of the 
relative  capability of a fluid to resist flow.  Heavy  syrup has  a high  viscosity; 
gasoline has a low viscosity. 
WET  WATER:  Water  containing  a wetting  or foaming  agent. 
WETTING  AGENT:  An additive  that reduces  the  surface  tension  of water 
(producing  wet  water)  causing  it to  spread  and penetrate more  effectively. 
WILDLAND-URBAN  INTERFACE:  That line,  area,  or zone  where  structures 
and other  human  development meets  or intermingles with  undeveloped wildland 
or vegetative fuels. 
WING  SPAN:  The distance  from wing  tip to wing  tip on  a fixed-wing  aircraft. 
Used for  corrections left  or  right  to  a target  location. 
346 'tI u.s. :PRINrIK; OFFICE: 2004-689-253/603

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